Spring 2013 Awards

Cohort Highlight: ISS Funds Faculty Research in Seven Colleges

Choosing Neighborhoods, Choosing Schools: A Pilot Study of the Association Between Neighborhood and School Composition
Kendra Bischoff, Sociology
Laura Tach, Policy Analysis and Management

Welfare Impacts of Participation in the Relationship Coffee Model Among Colombian Smallholder Growers
Miguel Gomez, Charles H. Dyson School of Applied Economics & Management

Economic Methods for Historians Workshop
Louis Hyman, Department of Labor Relations, Law, and History

Children of the Undocumented: Inclusion Versus Exclusion
Michael Jones-Correa, Government
Alex Street, Institute for European Studies
Chris Zepeda-Millan, Government

Rights to the Forest: Impacts of Governance Changes on Health, Nutrition and Livelihoods in the Nilgiri Biosphere Reserve, India
Neema Kudva, City and Regional Planning
Rebecca Stoltzfus, Nutritional Sciences
Andrew Willford, Anthropology and Asian Studies
Steven Wolf, Natural Resources

Preference of Firms During Economic Crisis: Evidence from Spain
Alexander Kuo, Government

School Quality Information and the Choice Environment: Evidence from Online School Search Behavior
Michael Lovenheim, Policy Analysis and Management

Marine Health Matters: A Risk Communication Workshop
Katherine McComas, Communication

Investor Distraction versus Investor Focus: Evidence from Earnings Announcements
Pamela Moulton, Finance

Measuring the Impact of Firm’s Resource Misallocation Growth in Developing Economies: Evidence from Indonesia
Sharon Poczter, Charles H. Dyson School of Applied Economics & Management

Teamwork and Technology in the Operating Room
Rachel Prentice, Science and Technology Studies

Meridian 180 Inter-disciplinary Conference: Rethinking the “Comfort Women” Problem
Annelise Riles, Law School and Anthropology

Examining Relationships Between Neighborhood Walkability and Health Behaviors and Outcomes
Rebecca Seguin, Division of Nutritional Sciences
Funded with generous support by the President’s Council of Cornell Women

Designing Optimal Social Insurance Systems
Maxim Troshkin, Economics

Choosing Neighborhoods, Choosing Schools: A Pilot Study of the Association Between Neighborhood and School Composition
Kendra Bischoff, Sociology
Laura Tach, Policy Analysis and Management

Neighborhoods and schools are two of the primary social contexts influencing child development and well-being, and access to resources and opportunities through these contexts is steeply stratified by race and socioeconomic status. The race and socioeconomic composition of neighborhoods and schools are often linked because of the geographic definitions of school attendance areas, but this association may be weaker when districts offer school choice policies that allow children to opt out of their neighborhood school. Using nationally representative survey data and detailed school-level data for the New York City metropolitan area, this project will first examine the association between the racial and socioeconomic composition of children’s neighborhoods and their schools and then assess whether this association is mediated by the presence of school choice policies. This project will serve as the foundation for a larger study of how housing and school choice policies influence the segregation of neighborhoods and schools.

Update:  As of 2014, the principal investigators, with the help of graduate and undergraduate research assistants, made significant progress in aggregating data from the U.S. Census, American Community Survey, National Center for Education Statistics’ Common Core of Data, and School Attendance Boundary Information System to create a harmonized data set that will allow them to compare the characteristics of individual schools to the characteristics of their surrounding neighborhoods, and to understand how the relationship between neighborhoods and schools has changed over time. Media coverage includes: Bischoff, ISS’ Small Grant PI (Spring 2013), Finds High-income Americans are More Segregated than Ever (2013).

Welfare Impacts of Participation in the Relationship Coffee Model Among Colombian Smallholder Growers
Miguel Gomez, Charles H. Dyson School of Applied Economics & Management

The international coffee market has changed dramatically in recent years with important implications to smallholder growers worldwide. In the past, the coffee market had strong participation from governments (e.g. export quota system and government-controlled exports schemes) and coffee was marketed primarily as a commodity. In contrast, today, policy decisions have little influence on the global coffee supply chain and the product is becoming increasingly differentiated. Today, there are a number of initiatives to integrate smallholder grower into high value coffee chains (e.g. Fair Trade), but the Relationship Coffee Model (RCM) is rapidly becoming the most popular. In spite of its growing popularity, very little is known about the impacts of RCM participation on the welfare of coffee smallholder growers. In response, we will partner with Sustainable Harvest (a world-leading buyer of RCM specialty coffee) to assess the welfare impacts of participation in RCM among smallholder growers in two coffee regions in Colombia (Antioquia and Cauca). Having this baseline database will help us develop a strong proposal to request support from foundations/donors to build a long-term grower panel to assess RCM participation over time.

UpdateA survey instrument was designed to measure farm-level Key Sustainability Performance Indicators of smallholder coffee growers. The variables in the survey included socioeconomic, resource utilization, land use practices, social and business practices. In addition, the principal investigator performed in-site environmental health assessments (soil health test, bird populations). Data was collected from nearly 300 smallholder coffee farmers in Cauca and Antioquia (half are RCM participants and half are non RCM participants). To do this,  a survey team of college students in each region (most will be members of the focal cooperatives) will be trained. We completed data collection in January 2014. A baseline database, to develop the statistical models to assess impacts of RCM, is being collected in 2014. For more information, see Work by ISS’ Spring 2013 Small Grant Awardee, Miguel Gomez, Sheds Light on the Science of Tasting Room Sales.

Economic Methods for Historians Workshop
Louis Hyman, Department of Labor Relations, Law, and History

This workshop seeks to reinvigorate the field of economic history by offering predominantly graduate students and junior faculty an intense introduction to quantitative methods, economic theory, and corporate research. While there has been a resurgent interest in economic history in the past few years — now called the History of Capitalism — few historians possess the interdisciplinary skills to fully develop the field. This workshop would provide an entré to those skill sets and promote more interdisciplinary collaboration between history and economics, as well as other quantitative social sciences.

Update: The Economic Methods for Historians Workshop, aka the History of Capitalism Summer Camp, was a stunning success. With a world-wide pool of 90 applicants, there was room for only 28 individuals to participate. In two weeks the conversation substantially shifted in the historical profession, leading to new research agendas, conference panels, and teaching topics.  Plans are underway for a 2014 summer program, to be supported without outside grants. The program is now self-sustaining.

Children of the Undocumented: Inclusion Versus Exclusion
Michael Jones-Correa, Government
Alex Street, Institute for European Studies
Chris Zepeda-Millan, Government

A generation of US-born citizens is growing up with undocumented parents. These Americans experience opposing forces at work in the US immigration system: included as citizens, but confronted with the legal exclusion of their parents. What kind of citizens does this contradictory set of forces create? What role will this generation carve out for themselves in US politics?  This project seeks to answer these questions and, more broadly, to investigate what the children of immigrants can teach us about the processes of political socialization, whereby these children, now adults,  become participants in civic and political life.  To carry out this study of US-born citizens with undocumented parents, we conducted an internet survey of 1,000 second generation Latinos.  This survey was fielded in the summer of 2013, with additional support from the Russell Sage Foundation.

Update:  Based on the survey fielded during the summer 2013, the results to date have been presented at the American Political Science Association’s conference in September 2013, and at the Harvard Graduate School of Education’s conference, Illegality, Youth and Belonging, in October 2013.  Additional findings will be presented at the Western Political Association’s annual meeting in April 2014.

Steven Wolf talks with village leaders. Photo by L. Yorke.

Steven Wolf talks with village leaders. Photo by L. Yorke.

Rights to the Forest: Impacts of Governance Changes on Health, Nutrition and Livelihoods in the Nilgiri Biosphere Reserve, India
Neema Kudva, City and Regional Planning
Rebecca Stoltzfus, Nutritional Sciences
Andrew Willford, Anthropology and Asian Studies
Steven Wolf, Natural Resources

How will the implementation of the 2006 Forest Rights Act (FRA), which recognizes limited tenure rights for forest dwellers, shape health, nutrition and livelihood opportunities in the Nilgiri Biosphere Reserve (NBR) in southern India? The FRA also significantly changes governance structures to privilege Gram Sabhas (Village Level Committees). In what ways, therefore, will the implementation of the FRA shape or alter community resilience as well as social scientific measures and cultural notions of community well-being? The answers to these questions will make important contributions to the literature on biodiversity conservation and sustainable development in ecologically fragile regions more broadly, and help shape sustainable livelihood opportunities for adivasi (indigenous communities) and others living in the NBR in the coming decades. The implementation of the 2006 FRA offers a natural experiment, allowing a multidisciplinary team of Cornell researchers in collaboration with community members and staff of the Keystone Foundation, Kotagiri, India, to undertake projects of mutual benefit. We have two goals: first, we aim to provide answers to the questions we pose on FRA impacts on health, nutrition, livelihood opportunities and biodiversity conservation in selected sites over time; second, based on our findings, we intend to outline policy and action responses that will allow communities and the Keystone Foundation to pursue appropriate strategies for community well-being and resilience. The FRA project, for which we are requesting support, will be part of the research activities of the Nilgiris Field Learning Center (NFLC), a collaborative project between Keystone Foundation and Cornell University.

Update: MOU establishes learning center in India (September 2013).

Preference of Firms During Economic Crisis: Evidence from Spain
Alexander Kuo, Government
Jose Fernández-Albertos, Institute for Policies and Public Goods, Spanish National Research Council

What explains business preferences for policies to end the current European economic crisis? What beliefs do firms have about the causes of the crisis, and do those beliefs inform their strategies to cope with the crisis? Despite the importance of business preferences and reactions to the crisis, little systematic data assesses these questions.

Update: Data was collected from a new survey of 500 firm representatives from Spain to measure business views of the crisis, as part of a larger project understanding policy and attitudes during the Eurozone crisis. The principal investigators found support from firms for staying in the Eurozone, austerity, and internal devaluation; opposition to unions; and belief that the size of the public sector is a problem for ending the crisis.  More specifically, they found that firms that have suffered due to the crisis are not markedly different in their policy preferences from those that have not, except that they prefer internal devaluation – a goal that is achievable via more flexible labor markets. As of 2014, these results suggest that to the extent that the general Spanish public, or populations of other crisis-hit countries, are opposed to the current status quo policies in response to the crisis, firms seem on balance more supportive of such policies. This research was presented at the International Political Economy Society annual meeting and at workshops on mass attitudes toward European integration.

School Quality Information and the Choice Environment: Evidence from Online School Search Behavior
Michael Lovenheim, Policy Analysis and Management

With the growth of school choice policies in the United States, a core question is how parents obtain information about local school quality and characteristics and whether the collection of such information is responsive to the choice environment itself. A major impediment to answering this question has been the lack of data on how parents acquire information about local schooling options. In this project, I will use a unique data set on school search behavior from the largest online school ratings website, Greatschools.com. This site provides free information about the test scores, teacher quality, and the demographic makeup at every school in the US, and it contains reviews from students and parents. Using monthly Greatschools.com search data combined with expansions of school choice policies at the state and city level, I will estimate how search behavior is responsive to the degree of school choice in an area. This will be the first evidence in the literature on whether the information parents have about schools changes when the return to accumulating such information increases. The project will shed needed light on a potential mechanism through which school choice policies can impact student achievement, which is to give parents an incentive to seek out more information about local schools.

Update: Nutrient-based tax could cut nation’s medical bills (2014). Teachers’ collective bargaining hurts students income. (2015)

Marine Health Matters: A Risk Communication Workshop
Katherine McComas, Communication
Sahara Byrne, Communication

Strategic risk communication efforts informed by social science research are needed to reduce human actions that amplify marine disease risk and to encourage actions to protect ocean health. This interdisciplinary workshop will convene a group of social scientists at the National Center for Ecological Analysis and Synthesis (NCEAS) October 14‐16, 2013, to discuss the opportunities for using risk perception and communication research to address marine disease risks and ocean health threats in the context of climate change. The overall intent is to move forward theoretical and empirical knowledge on marine health matters while also integrating social science research into marine system management approaches. The latter will be achieved by coordinating our workshop with a simultaneously held workshop at NCEAS with marine disease ecologists, modelers, and managers. This unique arrangement will afford opportunities for cross‐disciplinary fertilization of ideas between the social sciences and ecological and biological sciences, increasing the possibilities for transformative research.

Update: A workshop, Marine Health and Risk Communication, was held at the National Center for Ecological Analysis and Synthesis in Santa Barbara from October 12-14, 2013.  Convened under the auspices of the NSF-funded Research Coordination Network on Evaluating the Impacts of a Changing Ocean on Management and Ecology of Infectious Marine Disease (Drew Harvell, Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, is the Principal Investigator), the workshop advanced current knowledge about opportunities to use risk perception and risk communication research to address marine disease risks and ocean health threats stemming from climate change.  Held in tandem with another workshop with marine disease ecologists, modelers and economists, including Jon Conrad (Dyson School of Applied Economics and Management), the unique arrangement afforded opportunities for cross-disciplinary fertilization of ideas between the social sciences, ecological and biological sciences, increasing the possibilities for transformative research. Media coverage includes, (2014) ISS’ Small Grant Awardee, Katherine McComas, Publishes Study on Genetically Modified Crop.

Investor Distraction versus Investor Focus: Evidence from Earnings Announcements
Pamela Moulton, Finance

This proposal is for a study of how human attention constraints affect asset pricing in financial markets. The study will present direct empirical evidence on when a heavier information load causes investors to under-react to salient information about a particular security and, conversely, when it sharpens investor focus. Preliminary evidence indicates that when many firms make their quarterly earnings announcements (a major source of firm-specific news) on the same day, investors tend to under-react to the information content in any individual firm’s announcement. This result is in accord with theories of attention constraints and limited cognitive capacity. But evidence based on the limited data set already collected suggests that there is a richer story. While earnings announcements from firms in different industries contribute to the distraction effect (investor under reaction), earnings announcements from firms in the same industry lead to an opposite effect, increasing investor reaction to salient news. This paper aims to investigate the interplay between investor distraction and investor focus and their effects on the efficiency with which asset prices incorporate news. Funding will be used to collect additional data to expand the data set used in the study, broadening the study and increasing statistical power.

Update: The larger data set funded by this grant provided the statistical power to disentangle the distracting versus focusing effects of competing earnings announcements. As of 2014, the findings suggest an important difference related to the salience of competing information events. Earnings announcements of stocks within the same industry increase investor focus as well as leading to a richer information environment, while earnings announcements of stocks from other industries lead to investor distraction and a slower incorporation of news into stock prices. Additionally, the study shows that investor distraction is related to post-earnings-announcement drift, the tendency of stocks to adjust slowly to the news in earnings announcements. A resulting paper, “Earnings Announcements and Investor Focus in the Hospitality Industry,” was accepted for publication in the Cornell Hospitality Quarterly.

Measuring the Impact of Firm’s Resource Misallocation Growth in Developing Economies: Evidence from Indonesia
Sharon Poczter, Charles H. Dyson School of Applied Economics & Management

This research project aims to estimate the differential impact of institutional features on aggregate productivity and growth in an emerging market. While the misallocation of resources necessary to substitute for less-developed institutions may be a major factor in explaining differences in growth between developed and developing countries, little evidence exists as to the relative impact of these institutions. Only with an understanding of the differential impact of institutional development can policymakers understand the optimal allocation of funds. To this end, a unique data set matching annual firm-level manufacturing data from 1993-2008 in Indonesia with credit availability, location infrastructure quality, and political connections will be constructed. This dataset will allow for analysis of the impact of these institutional features on firm productivity over time. In a second step, this data set will be matched to comparable U.S. manufacturing firms in order to attribute differences in resource allocation between the U.S. and Indonesian firms to specific institutional features.

Teamwork and Technology in the Operating Room
Rachel Prentice, Science and Technology Studies

Teamwork is ubiquitous in clinical practice. Physicians and nurses must coordinate patient care, specialists examine complex cases from multiple viewpoints, multiple technologies specialists unique windows onto the patient bodies. In the operating room, nurses, anesthesiologists, and surgeons must collaborate the highly routinized and complex activities involved in each operation. Although senior surgeons tend to be the focal points of credit and criticism, the activities of the team make all surgical action possible. This pilot project will employ techniques of ethnographic participant-observation to explore the choreography of activities by multi-disciplinary teams in the operating room, examining particularly issues of practice and ethics, materiality and authority, and bureaucratic and technological change. The results of this pilot project will form the basis for grant applications for both anthropological and applied (pedagogical) research into clinical teamwork.

Update: Book dissects anatomy training, surgical education (August 2013)

Meridian 180 Inter-disciplinary Conference: Rethinking the “Comfort Women” Problem
Annelise Riles, Law School and Anthropology

The question of the legacy of and the possible reparations and redress for female sexual slavery during World War II remains one of the greatest unresolved diplomatic problems in the East Asia region and a flashpoint of feminist legal and human rights debate. In the last year, the issue has resurfaced as a very live controversy as a result of the election of a nationalist Prime Minister in Japan on the one hand, and the rise of prominent and mainstream advocates for a more detailed apology and financial reparations for victims throughout Asia on the other. We seek funding to help support a one-day interdisciplinary conference to be held at Cornell University that will bring together the extensive expertise available in multiple departments at Cornell University (social sciences, law, and humanities) on this complex subject , together with invited scholars and practitioners from other universities in the United States, Europe, Korea, and Japan. The purpose of the conference is to assess the state of available research and knowledge, to evaluate existing proposals for diplomatic solutions that might be presented to policy-makers throughout the region, and to set the stage for a longer-term collaborative research and policy project that might be appropriate for ISS theme project support. The topic is an ideal one for building new social science networks among scholars at Cornell University because it is already the subject of disparate yet active research projects across the university. We expect this conference will result in a collection of journal articles for submission as a special symposium issue of the prestigious human rights journal Humanity: An International Journal of Human Rights, Humanitarianism, and Development.

Update: A research workshop, Legal and Diplomatic Responses to the Comfort Women Problem, was held at Cornell Law School on June 19, 2014.  The conference brought together a small group of international legal scholars and regional specialists to discuss possible new legal approaches to addressing the conflict among Asian nations about human rights violations related to sexual slavery during World War II. Participants from Cornell included Naoki Sakai, Hirokazu Miyazaki, and Jens Ohlin along with members from the Law School and College of Arts and Sciences . Out of town visitors included Monica Eppinger (Saint Louis University School of Law )and Professor Karen Knop (University of Toronto School of Law) among other legal scholars and social social scientists working at other US universities.  The grant also supported the writing of an article entitled “Diplomacy and its Others: The Case of the Comfort Women” by Riles, Eppinger and Knop, presented at the conference.

Examining Relationships Between Neighborhood Walkability and Health Behaviors and Outcomes
Rebecca Seguin, Division of Nutritional Sciences
Funded with generous support by the PCCW.

The objective of this study is to conduct prospective analyses of the relationship between neighborhood built environment, specifically walkability, and related health behaviors and outcomes such as physical activity and sedentary behavior; body weight status; development of chronic diseases (e.g. diabetes, cardiovascular disease, certain cancers); cause-specific mortality; and other related behavioral and disease outcomes. We will use data from the Women’s Health Initiative (WHI) study of approximately 161,000 midlife and older women to examine these research questions.

Update:  Significant progress made in efforts to address technical and logistical arrangements. The WHI ancillary study was approved, as were legal data sharing agreements between Cornell and the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Resource Center/WHI, and with collaborators at Walk Score who are responsible for producing the data for the project.
Project aims to grow local farms, shrink childhood obesity (March 2015).

Designing Optimal Social Insurance Systems
Maxim Troshkin, Economics

A central question in the economics of public policy is how to provide social insurance efficiently. One widely held view is that an optimal social insurance system must balance the provision of incentives to work for productive individuals against insuring those who loose their productivity due to illness, disability, or old age. Incentives to work must consequently involve both types of individual decisions – about the hours worked each year and the age at which to retire. This research proposal describes three projects aimed at furthering our understanding of efficient social insurance by developing an integrated theoretical and computational framework, and facilitating  the design of an optimal insurance systems internalizing both types of individual incentives to work.

Update: A theoretic framework characterizing efficient pension systems as integral parts of the overall tax code in the presence of idiosyncratic life-cycle productivity shocks was created. Conditions on the fundamentals of the economy were derived, under which efficient retirement ages are increasing in productivity. With the help of graduate research assistants, significant progress was made towards calibrating a computational version of the framework to the U.S. individual level data.  In 2014, the quantitative framework is being used to clearly identify and quantify factors that determine how efficient retirement ages change as a function of productivity. In May 2013, a paper Optimal Pension Systems with Simple Instruments was published, and another paper, Redistribution and Social Insurance, was revised in October 2013. For more information on Troshkin’s research, see this story about his study on capital tax policy.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
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