Fall 2015 Small Grant Awards

Cohort Highlight

ISS grants support research on health care, history. (Cornell Chronicle, December 6, 2015).

Projects

The Causes and Consequences of Financial Crises Evidence from New Historical Data, 1900-2015
Matthew Baron, JGSM

Understanding Our Influence Over Others’ Moral Decisions
Vanessa Bohns, ILR

LabPhon15-Speech Dynamics and Phonological Representation
Abigail Cohn, Linguistics
Sam Tilsen, Linguistics

Influence of Body State on Cognition and Emotion in Shaping Environmental Interactions: Implications for Aging
Eve DeRosa, Human Development

Postcolonial Commemorations: how Revolutionaries Became Freedom Fighters in Independent India
Durba Ghosh, History

Developing a Longitudinal Database of Smallholder Coffee Growers to Assess Impacts of Participation in Specialty Markets
Miguel Gomez, AEM

The Nth of the Month Effect: Consumer and Retailer Response to SNAP Benefit
Tatiana Homonoff, PAM

Economic Methods for Historians Workshop (aka History of Capitalism Summer Camp)
Louis Hyman, ILR

Labor Unions and the Spread of Healthcare-Associated Infections
Adam Seth Litwin, ILR

Using Cost Effectiveness Analysis to Assess the Double Up Food Bucks Farmers’ Market Incentive Program for SNAP Participants
Rebecca Seguin, Nutritional Sciences

Political Economy and Public Law Conference
Jed Stiglitz, Law

Exploring the Role of Culture in Event Segmentation
Khena Swallow, Psychology

Citizens and the State in Authoritarian Regimes: Comparing Mass Politics and Policy in Russia and China
Jessica Chen Weiss, Government

The Impact of Noise and Perceived Crowding on Consumer Emotions and Repatronage Intentions in a Food Service Context: An Exploratory Study in a Real and Virtual Restaurant
So-Yeon Yoon, Design and Environmental Analysis

The Value of Mandated Sick Pay for the U.S.
Nicolas Ziebarth, PAM

The Causes and Consequences of Financial Crises Evidence from New Historical Data, 1900-2015
Matthew Baron, JGSM

The project seeks to study the effects of the banking sector on financial markets and the macroeconomy. In the study of historical financial crises over a broad range of countries, the use of firm level data, in addition to price information on individual assets (e.g., bank stocks, credit spreads), is uncommon due to lack of data, limiting our knowledge of specific mechanisms connecting the banking sector to financial markets and the macroeconomy. To remedy this gap, this research will study the behavior of banks and their effects on financial markets and the macroeconomy with a new hand-collected international and historical panel of individual banks’ balance sheets and securities beginning around 1900 for 30 developed countries.

Update: This project has collected data from the Harvard Business School historical archives on the financial statements of over 300 banks in 30 countries from the late 19th century to the present. About 70 percent of these financial statements have been transcribed and incorporated into a new database, with the remaining due to be completed by Summer 2017. Data from this project was used in a forthcoming paper: Baron, Matthew and Wei Xiong, “Credit Expansion and Neglected Crash Risk”, Quarterly Journal of Economics (forthcoming), 2017. Another project with this data (with Tyler Muir at UCLA and Tobias Adrian at the IMF) looks at the link between banking and asset prices over two centuries and shows that bank credit growth is one of the main drivers of asset price fluctuations in a variety of asset classes. A third project with this data (with Wei Xiong and Emil Verner of Princeton) is constructing a new catalogue of financial crises in 30 countries over the last 200 years, which will be publicly available in Summer 2017.

Understanding Our Influence Over Others’ Moral Decisions
Vanessa Bohns, ILR

Unethical acts are frequently conducted at the behest of someone else. We can successfully goad others into doing things that make them uncomfortable because it is even more uncomfortable to say “no.” This research project explores whether we recognize the power of our own words and actions when we are in a position to influence someone else’s behavior: Do we recognize the awkward position we put people in when we make an unethical suggestion? Can we tell when another person feels uncomfortable with this request, but feels she can’t say “no”?

Update: Two experiments have revealed that the tendency to underestimate our influence over others is attenuated when the other is a close friend. Specifically, the data indicate people more accurately predict whether they will be able to get a close friend to go along with a request than whether they will be able to get a stranger to go along with the same request. This finding appears robust, but the underlying reason for it remains unclear. Are people better able to take the perspective of their friends, thus recognizing how hard it would be for them to say “no”? Are these sorts of interactions between friends more normative than similar interactions between strangers? Ongoing research seeks to clarify the specific mechanism that explains this finding.

LabPhon15-Speech Dynamics and Phonological Representation
Abigail Cohn, Linguistics
Sam Tilsen, Linguistics

Major international researchers taking experimental approaches to phonology, the study of human speech sounds, regularly attend the biennial Conference in Laboratory Phonology (Lab Phon). Four of the last five LabPhon meetings were hosted outside the US, but Cornell’s Department of Linguistics is honored to host the next conference focusing on speech dynamics and phonological representation from July 13-16, 2016.  This grant will help to increase Cornell’s visibility in dynamic research activities in linguistics and related fields, including psychology, human development, cognitive science, and information sciences.

Influence of Body State on Cognition and Emotion in Shaping Environmental Interactions: Implications for Aging
Eve DeRosa, Human Development

Growing evidence suggests that body state may have an impact on cognitive and emotional processing, but this possibility remains relatively unexplored. The balance of parasympathetic to sympathetic nervous system activity, a key regulator of body state, is strongly influenced by environmental factors such as stress or socioeconomic status. To elucidate the impact of body state regulation on cognitive and affective regulation, this proposal examines the role of the parasympathetic vagus nerve in driving attentional inhibition – the ability to ignore irrelevant stimuli – and emotional judgments across the lifespan. Young adult and older adult participants will complete an object competition task and learning-to-ignore task. Behavioral and neural measures of attentional inhibition and emotional processing will be coupled with measurement of vagus nerve activity.

Postcolonial Commemorations: how Revolutionaries Became Freedom Fighters in Independent India
Durba Ghosh, History

This project is on postcolonial commemorations of a radical political movement described as “militant nationalism” or “revolutionary terrorism” in Bengal (Chatterjee 2009; Heehs 1993; Mukherjee 1995; Samanta 1995). The project focuses on the ways that political activists who espoused political violence were able to remake themselves from terrorists into freedom fighters, a process that took several decades of civic organization. By examining how the history of Bengal’s revolutionary terrorist movement was produced by revolutionaries and radicals after 1947 when India became independent from the British, the project analyzes how public commemorations formed a central part of forming new civic communities in the newly founded postcolonial state.

Developing a Longitudinal Database of Smallholder Coffee Growers to Assess Impacts of Participation in Specialty Markets
Miguel Gomez, AEM

Dramatic changes in coffee markets are prompting more interest in promoting smallholder grower participation in specialty coffee markets. Similar to wine, the specialty coffee market’s price premiums are driven in part by such concepts as terroir or “taste of place”, along with origin. In spite of the increased interest in specialty markets, very little is known about the impacts of participation on the welfare of coffee smallholder growers. Working with Sustainable Harvest (a world-leading buyer of specialty coffee) we are developing a longitudinal database to credibly assess the welfare, socioeconomic and environmental impacts of participation in specialty markets among 300 smallholder growers in two coffee regions in Colombia (Antioquia and Cauca).

The Nth of the Month Effect: Consumer and Retailer Response to SNAP Benefit
Tatiana Homonoff, PAM

Prior research on the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program suggests that grocery stores strategically increase prices on the day that benefits are issued, shifting the incidence of the program’s benefits away from the intended recipients. In response to such findings, some have called for states to stagger the issuance of food stamp benefits over multiple days of the month. This paper provides the first estimates of the causal impact of staggering benefits on consumer demand and retailer prices by linking variation across state policies in the timing of benefit issuance with product-level sales and pricing data from retailers and consumers.

Economic Methods for Historians Workshop  (aka History of Capitalism Summer Camp)
Louis Hyman, ILR

Launched in the summer of 2013, the “Summer Camp” has already trained ~60 graduate students and faculty in new history of capitalism methods. The camp aims to expose professional historians to methods and ideas from economics, finance, and statistics to empower them to rethink the questions that they ask. Over two weeks, campers learn microeconomics, macroeconomics, corporate finance, financial accounting, statistics and modeling, and quantitative mapping from Cornell faculty. The cohort effect and the training are already changing the way historians work.

Labor Unions and the Spread of Healthcare-Associated Infections
Adam Seth Litwin, ILR

Hospital-acquired healthcare-associated infections (HAIs) affect over 1.7 million patients in the U.S. each year and result in 98,000 deaths.  Where HAIs result from interconnected or cascading breakdowns in systems, one would expect labor unions to foster the sorts of worker voice mechanisms that prevent their spread and thereby improve patient safety. This proposal requests support for a pilot study to theorize and assess the relationship between labor relations structures and one particular gauge of healthcare quality, the incidence of hospital-acquired HAIs. Drawing on the collective social science background and clinical experience of the research team, the investigators are focusing on the work of registered nurses and supporting frontline clinicians (e.g., certified nursing assistants, licensed practical nurses) on approximately 12 medical/surgical wards selected to capture variation in unionization in New York State’s Southern Tier.

Update: We revised the original research design in light of access challenges at a number of regional hospitals.  Instead of undertaking mixed-method research across multiple hospitals, we opted 1.) to undertake an in-depth, multi-method case study at a single hospital in an effort to develop theory and hypotheses, and 2.) to construct a national dataset allowing us to link measures of worker voice and psychological safety, union status, and healthcare-associated infections (HAIs) to test and advance theories linking worker voice to the spread of HAIs.  We are now in the process of revising the case study for publication.  We have only just received the national data on patient safety culture, so our next step is to clean it, link it to the other data sources, and to subject it to the hypotheses developed from received research and from the case study.  We anticipate using the newly-constructed/integrated panel dataset to answer additional research questions regarding frontline worker voice and patient safety beyond those posed in the seed research funded by the Institute for Social Sciences. A paper, “Superbugs vs. Outsourced Cleaners: Employment Arrangements and the Spread of Healthcare-Associated Infections,” was accepted for publication in Industrial and Labor Relations Review.

Using Cost-Effectiveness Analysis to Assess the Double Up Food Bucks Farmers’ Market Incentive Program for SNAP Participants
Rebecca Seguin, Nutritional Sciences

Recent policy discussions have focused on improving diet quality and health in low-income and food-insecure households by improving their access to and consumption of fruit and vegetables. Farmers’ market programs such as Double Up Food Bucks (DUFB) incentivize the use of Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program benefits at farmers’ markets to purchase locally-grown fruits and vegetables while simultaneously bolstering local agricultural economies. Though there is evidence that these programs successfully improve participants’ diets, no work has been done to assess whether such programs are cost-effective to administer. Thus, the study objective is to complete formal cost-effectiveness analyses of the DUFB program and compare cost-effectiveness across programs with similar outcomes. The results of this work have implications for local, state, and federal food assistance programming.

Update: To facilitate the comparison of the Double Up program’s cost-effectiveness to that of another nutrition-promoting program being tested by the PI’s team, the proposed data collection timepoints were amended to align with those of the other program’s evaluation. Data collection began in summer 2016, as planned, but the second timepoint was moved from program mid-point (August 2016) to program end (October 2016) and a 6-month follow-up was added (April 2017). Of the 187 program participants who agreed to be contacted regarding the study, 107 (57%) completed the baseline survey and 81 (76%) completed the post-program survey. Program cost data are currently being collected from program administrators and cost-effectiveness across study time points will be calculated upon collection of the follow-up data.

Political Economy and Public Law Conference
Jed Stiglitz, Law

This grant is supporting the ninth Political Economy and Public Law Conference to be held at Cornell University in Spring 2016. Over the last eight years, this annual conference has developed a reputation for interdisciplinary excellence, representing the highest standards of social science and legal scholarship. Many leading interdisciplinary public law scholars played important roles in founding the conference, and it continues to serve as a unique venue for fostering interdisciplinary work, particularly by more junior scholars. The conference typically consists of roughly 20 scholars, with about half from law schools and half from political science programs.

Exploring the Role of Culture in Event Segmentation
Khena Swallow, Psychology

The primary goal of this research project is to develop protocols, stimuli, and data that characterize the role of culture in event perception and memory. The studies will focus on two central questions. First, do people from different cultures agree on which moments in time separate “what is happening now” from “what just happened”? And, second, does segmentation depend on the cultural setting of the activities? The project will use two types of film: (1) films depicting everyday activities such as cooking and doing laundry in Western and Eastern settings, and (2) commercially produced films from Western and Eastern studios. Measures of event segmentation, including segmentation rate, individual-group agreement, and hierarchical organization, will be examined to determine the degree to which segmentation varies across cultures. The effect of segmentation on memory will also be examined across groups.

Update:

This project examines how a person’s cultural background influences the way they perceive and understand meaningful events. People with different cultural backgrounds, both in the US and in India, are asked to identify meaningful units in other people’s activities and to later recall those activities. Though stimulus and task development took longer than anticipated, data collection for one in-person experiment and one online experiment is in progress. We anticipate data collection will be complete next summer and that findings from the study will be written up and submitted to conferences by the end of 2017. Preliminary data analyses suggest that cultural background influences how people organize events as they perceive them. If this pattern holds we will apply for external funding next fall.

Citizens and the State in  Authoritarian Regimes: Comparing Mass Politics and Policy in Russia and China
Jessica Chen Weiss, Government

How do authoritarian rulers attempt to shape public opinion to ensure regime stability and support? How successful have they been in these efforts? How does public opinion influence regime policies at home and abroad? These questions will be the focus of two workshops, the first to be held at Cornell and the second at Notre Dame, bringing together specialists on contemporary Russia and China in order to compare relations between citizens and the state in these two authoritarian regimes.

Update: On Friday, September 16, 2016, Jessica Weiss, Valerie Bunce, and Cornell Government Department alum Karrie Koesel co-hosted a daylong workshop on “Mass Politics, the State and Foreign and Domestic Policy in Russia and China”, attended by 10 invited scholars from around the country as well as local faculty and graduate student participants. The workshop papers focused on the themes of public opinion, controlling information, civil society, and education in contemporary Chinese and Russian politics and foreign policy. A second follow-up workshop is planned at Notre Dame on March 9-10, 2017.

The Impact of Noise and Perceived Crowding on Consumer Emotions and Repatronage Intentions in a Food Service Context: An Exploratory Study in a Real and Virtual Restaurant
So-Yeon Yoon, Design and Environmental Analysis

Prior research has acknowledged the impact of noise on customer experience in food service environments, but this project will expand the literature on soundscapes and perceived crowding in service environments. We propose to do so by empirically testing the impact of noise and visual crowding in a real food service environment. Additionally, this study offers a unique opportunity for the interdisciplinary research team to conduct a proof-of concept test with an advanced immersive simulation technology allowing us to systematically manipulate environmental variable while delivering lifelike experiences in a controlled environment. We formulate hypotheses to test the relationship between noise, perceived crowding, emotions, and responses on perceived service quality, customer satisfaction, and repatronage intentions in association with gender, education, age, and ethnic background. The results of the project will provide the basis for subsequent major studies in environment and behavior as well as customer experience in service environments.

The Value of Mandated Sick-Pay for the U.S.
Nicolas Ziebarth, PAM

The US is the only industrialized country worldwide without universal access to paid sick leave. Only half of all US employees have access to paid sick leave. This research project will assess the impact and value of mandated sick pay for the US using across-national evaluation approach comparing the United States and Germany. The project will use the representative 2011 Sick Leave Supplement of the American Time Use Survey (ATUS) to picture and comprehensively assess the US sick leave landscape. We will theoretically model the pros and cons of sick pay schemes and will estimate the theoretical model using exogenous variation in the generosity of Germany’s federally mandated sick pay scheme. We also will empirically evaluate the implementation of sick pay schemes at the regional level in the US within the last 10 years, i.e., in San Francisco, Washington DC, Connecticut, Seattle, New York City, Portland, and other regions. The goal is to estimate the impact of sick pay legislation on the spread of infectious diseases, wages, and employment prospects for low-wage workers.

Update: The first part of the research project illustrates that 35 percent of US full-time employees lacked sick pay coverage in 2011, using the representative 2011 ATUS Sick Leave Supplement. Coverage rates were below 20 percent for low-income and part-time employees. Each week, up to 3 million U.S. employees went to work sick, where women and low-income earners had a significantly elevated risk of presenteeism behavior.  The second part of the research project shows theoretically that, when employees gain access to paid sick leave, more employees will call in sick and fewer employees will go to work sick and spread contagious diseases.

Subsequent Grants Received: Upjohn Institute for Employment Research, Early Career Research Award: Mario Einaudi Center for International Studies, Seed Grant.
Publications: SUSSER, P. and N. R. ZIEBARTH (2016): “Profiling the US Sick Leave Landscape: Presenteeism amongst Females,” Health Services Research, 51(6): 2305-2317.

Media: Flu Rates Would Drop if Congress Mandated Paid Sick Leave (2015). Seriously, Don’t Come to Work If You’re Sick (2016).

 
 
 
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