November 26, 2007

Alesina and Giuliano on the economic consequences of family values

We study the importance of culture, as measured by the strenght of family ties, on economic behavior and attitudes. We define our measure of family ties using individual responses from the World Value Survey regarding the role of the family and the love and respect that children need to have for their parents for over 70 countries. We show that strong family ties imply more reliance on the family as an economic unit which provides goods and services and less on the market and on the government for social insurance. With strong family ties home production is higher, labor force participation of women and youngsters, and geographical mobility, lower. Families are larger (higher fertility and higher family size) with strong family ties, which is consistent with the idea of the family as an important economic unit. We present evidence on cross country regressions. To assess causality we look at the behavior of second generation immigrants in the US and we employ a variable based on the grammatical rule of pronoun drop as an instrument for family ties. Our results overall indicate a significant influence of the strength of family ties on economic outcomes.

Alberto Alesina and Paola Giuliano, “The Power of the Family,” unpublished paper. Available here.

October 08, 2007

Gross and Simmons on the social and political views of professors

In 1955, Columbia University sociologist Paul Lazarsfeld received a grant from The Ford Foundation’s newly established Fund for the Republic – chaired by former University of Chicago President Robert M. Hutchins – to study how American social scientists were faring in the era of McCarthyism. … Analyzing the survey data on this score with Wagner Thielens in their 1958 book, The Academic Mind, Lazarsfeld observed that liberalism and Democratic Party affiliation were much more common among social scientists than within the general population of the United States, and that social scientists at research universities were more liberal than their peers at less prestigious institutions. … In the 1990s, a few sociologists continued to produce high quality work on the topic (e.g., Hamilton and Hargens 1993; Nakhaie and Brym 1999). But an unfortunate tendency became evident: increasingly, those social scientists who turned their attention to professors and their politics, and employed the tools of survey research, had as their goal simply to highlight the liberalism of the professoriate in order to provide support for conservatives urging the reform of American colleges and universities. … With this essay we take a step toward moving the study of professorial politics back into the domain of mainstream sociological inquiry. … Where other recent studies have characterized the American college and university faculty as not simply extremely liberal, but nearly uniformly so (Klein and Stern 2004-5; Rothman, Lichter, and Nevitte 2005; Tobin and Weinberg 2006), we show that while conservatives, Republicans, and Republican voters are rare within the faculty ranks, on many issues there are as many professors who hold center/center-left views as there are those who cleave to more liberal positions, while the age distribution indicates that, in terms of their overall political orientation, professors are becoming more moderate over time, and less radical.

Neil Gross and Solon Simmons (2007), “The Social and Political Views of American Professors,” unpublished paper. Available here.

August 24, 2007

Hayward on blog regulation

Abstract: This essay examines how U.S., Germany, and EU cases have treated the regulation of political commentary on the Internet. As political blogging grows in popularity, the reach of these sites, and their influence in political campaigns, may make them a target for regulation by rivals and incumbents, both at home and abroad. Since ordinarily any URL can be reached from anywhere with Internet access, conflicting domestic rules about what can be said (and who can say it) present potential for conflicting rules on blogging.

In brief, U.S. law protects blogging content, but may impose restrictions on the source of political commentary by barring certain funding sources. German law imposes stricter limits on the content of blogging, but does not regulate financial sources to the same degree. European court rulings may offer greater protection than domestic German law, but seem inconsistent and thus add uncertainty and ambiguity to the situation. In the end, bloggers may avoid legal entanglement because they enjoy public sympathy and support, but better still would be an international agreement to spare blogging from prosecution.

Allison Hayward (2007), “Regulation of Blog Campaign Advocacy on the Internet: Comparing U.S., German and EU Approaches,” unpublished paper.