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October 18, 2012

Latest Posts from Economist's View


Latest Posts from Economist's View


What's Driving Projected Deficits?

Posted: 11 Oct 2012 12:24 AM PDT

The CBPP has updated its chart (full report) showing the source of the budget deficit, "and they continue to find that these deficits stem overwhelmingly from the economic downturn, the tax cuts first enacted under President Bush, and the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan." But going forward, it's the Bush-era tax cuts that make the largest contribution:

'Digging Deeper into the BLS Data'

Posted: 11 Oct 2012 12:15 AM PDT

After a long, detailed analysis of why the payroll and household numbers diverged in the last employment report, Larry Mishel ends with:

... This controversy is not funny at all. BLS career staff has been inundated with calls from people attacking them, the predictable consequence of these conspiracy charges. BLS staff should not be facing this type of harassment. This whole episode makes me angry—at the disrespect for facts and the professionals at BLS—and it also makes me sad about the state of discourse in our nation.

'The Marshmallow Study Revisited'

Posted: 11 Oct 2012 12:09 AM PDT

Ever heard of the marshmallow test? The outcome may have more to do with conditioning from a child's environment than with innate ability:

The Marshmallow Study revisited, EurekAlert: For the past four decades, the "marshmallow test" has served as a classic experimental measure of children's self-control: will a preschooler eat one of the fluffy white confections now or hold out for two later? ... The research ... began at Stanford University in the late 1960s. Walter Mischel and other researchers famously showed that individual differences in the ability to delay gratification on this simple task correlated strongly with success in later life. Longer wait times as a child were linked years later to higher SAT scores, less substance abuse, and parental reports of better social skills.
Because of the surprising correlation, the landmark marshmallow studies have been cited as evidence that qualities like self-control or emotional intelligence in general may be more important to navigating life successfully than more traditional measures of intelligence, such as IQ.
The Rochester team wanted to explore more closely why some preschoolers are able to resist the marshmallow while others succumb to licking, nibbling, and eventually swallowing the sugary treat. The researchers assigned 28 three- to five-year-olds to two contrasting environments: unreliable and reliable. The study results were so strong that a larger sample group was not required...
Children who experienced unreliable interactions with an experimenter waited for a mean time of three minutes and two seconds on the subsequent marshmallow task, while youngsters who experienced reliable interactions held out for 12 minutes and two seconds. Only one of the 14 children in the unreliable group waited the full 15 minutes, compared to nine children in the reliable condition.
"I was astounded that the effect was so large," says Aslin. " … You don't see effects like this very often." ...
The findings, says Kidd, are reassuring. She recalls reading about the predictive power of these earlier experiments years ago and finding it "depressing." At the time she was volunteering at a homeless shelter for families in Santa Ana, California. "There were lots of kids staying there with their families. Everyone shared one big area, so keeping personal possessions safe was difficult," she says. "When one child got a toy or treat, there was a real risk of a bigger, faster kid taking it away. I read about these studies and I thought, 'All of these kids would eat the marshmallow right away.' "
But as she observed the children week after week, she began to question the task as a marker of innate ability alone. "If you are used to getting things taken away from you, not waiting is the rational choice. Then it occurred to me that the marshmallow task might be correlated with something else that the child already knows—like having a stable environment." ... [ Video]

Links for 10-11-2012

Posted: 11 Oct 2012 12:03 AM PDT

Why Aren't Politicians Talking about Climate Change?

Posted: 10 Oct 2012 09:24 AM PDT

As I'm waiting to board a plane, this surprised me -- promising to address climate change is a vote getter?:

Why Aren't Politicians Listening to Joe Romm About Climate Change?, by Chris Mooney, The Atlantic: He's been called "America's fiercest climate blogger." ... Romm has called Obama's failure to speak out about global warming, loudly and often, his "biggest communications mistake."
Now, a raft of new polls are showing that this issue has the potential to move independent and swing voters... So we stopped to chat with Romm ... about his unusual take on this subject. ...
Do you think this has always been true -- that climate change has always been a potential political winner -- or has it become more true over time?...
There's no question that the Obama team has gotten a misimpression that this is not a winning issue. And that I think is based on some rather questionable analysis done years ago, that basically said, "if you only present the doom and gloom case, you turn some people off." But nobody really does that -- nobody I know does that. ...
The polling data seems clear: This is a classic wedge issue that separates conservatives not just from progressives, but also from moderates and independents. So you know, we can spend a lot of time being puzzled about why this administration does bizarre messaging. If you talk to communications experts, many will say this administration is not great at it. You can get upset about President Obama not bringing up climate change, but this is not an administration that's good at communicating -- and this is just one of the many areas that they mistakenly downplay. ...

 

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