Month: August 2018
Publicly displayed, sexualized depictions of women have proliferated, enabled by new communication technologies, including the internet and mobile devices. These depictions are often claimed to be outcomes of a culture of gender inequality and female oppression, but, paradoxically, recent rises in sexualization are most notable in societies that have made strong progress toward gender parity. Few empirical tests of the relation between gender inequality and sexualization exist, and there are even fewer tests of alternative hypotheses. We examined aggregate patterns in 68,562 sexualized self-portrait photographs (“sexy selfies”) shared publicly on Twitter and Instagram and their association with city-, county-, and cross-national indicators of gender inequality. We then investigated the association between sexy-selfie prevalence and income inequality, positing that sexualization—a marker of high female competition—is greater in environments in which incomes are unequal and people are preoccupied with relative social standing. Among 5,567 US cities and 1,622 US counties, areas with relatively more sexy selfies were more economically unequal but not more gender oppressive. A complementary pattern emerged cross-nationally (113 nations): Income inequality positively covaried with sexy-selfie prevalence, particularly within more developed nations. To externally validate our findings, we investigated and confirmed that economically unequal (but not gender-oppressive) areas in the United States also had greater aggregate sales in goods and services related to female physical appearance enhancement (beauty salons and women’s clothing). Here, we provide an empirical understanding of what female sexualization reflects in societies and why it proliferates.
From a new paper in PNAS.
The paper looks mostly at cross-sectional relationships but social media has increased the reach of sexy selfies so the payoff to advertising in this manner has gone way up. Furthermore, sexy selfies have launched more than one billionaire in recent years and not only through marriage so we would expect the trend to continue.
About half the world’s mud volcanoes are in Azerbaijan, and some good ones are about an hour’s drive from the edge of Baku.
I saw a Koch Industries truck parked about ten miles down the road.
Yanar Dag (Azerbaijani: Yanar Dağ, meaning “burning mountain”) is a natural gas fire which blazes continuously on a hillside on the Absheron Peninsula on the Caspian Sea near Baku, the capital of Azerbaijan (a country which itself is known as “the Land of Fire“). Flames jet into the air 3 metres (9.8 ft) from a thin, porous sandstone layer.
That is the topic of my latest Bloomberg column, here is one bit:
Every now and then, one party will control all branches of government, and then the rhetoric and the expectations will be in place for some pretty big changes. Not long ago, I thought that even a 5-to-4 conservative Republican majority on the Supreme Court would essentially leave Roe v. Wade in place, for fear of taking this Republican-friendly issue off the national agenda. Now I’m not so sure. All of a sudden, Americans are getting used to the idea that extreme political change is possible, for better or worse, and that means many of them will demand it. In the Trump Era, if I may call it that, it is harder to tell your base that big changes just don’t happen that easily.
There are also plenty of good ideas that don’t have a partisan tinge one way or the other. Five years ago, I thought the Federal Reserve was far away from adopting “nominal GDP targeting,” an idea supported by many economists on both the right and the left. Today it seems entirely possible that the Fed will move much further in that direction, if only because it wouldn’t be seen as such a big, radical change compared to so many other developments. Trump is probably going to tweet criticism at the Fed no matter what it does, so it might as well just go ahead and do some things it wants to do.
Do read the whole thing.
Diether W. Beuermann and C. Kirabo Jackson report:
Recent studies document that, in many cases, sought after schools do not improve student test scores. Three explanations are that (i) existing studies identify local average treatment effects that do not generalize to the average student, (ii) parents cannot discern schools’ causal impacts, and (iii) parents value schools that improve outcomes not well measured by test scores. To shed light on this, we employ administrative and survey data from Barbados. Using discrete choice models, we document that most parents have strong preferences for the same schools. Using a regression-discontinuity design, we estimate the causal impact of attending a preferred school on a broad array of outcomes. As found in other settings, preferred schools have better peers, but do not improve short-run test scores. We implement a new statistical test and find that this null effect is not due to school impacts being different for marginal students than for the average student. Looking at longer-run outcomes, for girls, preferred schools reduce teen motherhood, increase educational attainment, increase earnings, and improve health. In contrast, for boys, the results are mixed. The pattern for girls is consistent with parents valuing school impacts on outcomes not well measured by test scores, while the pattern for boys is consistent with parents being unable to identify schools’ causal impacts. Our results indicate that impacts on test scores may be an incomplete measure of school quality.
A neglected point…Arnold Kling, telephone!
6. Sweetheart of the Rodeo. Roger McGuinn must have been the talent spotter in that group, with Gene Clark, Chris Hillman, David Crosby, Gram Parsons, and Clarence White as a pretty good record.
Hedge funds, especially activist hedge funds, are established users of private-investigation services. Sometimes simply paying an investigator to go through publicly available information can yield valuable leverage in an investment. The hedge-fund investor Daniel Loeb, of Third Point, exposed misrepresentations on the résumé of Scott Thompson, the C.E.O. of Yahoo, who subsequently resigned. But some private-investigation firms or consultants will do much more for a well-paying client. “There are thousands of tiny shops out there, run by former C.I.A. operatives, MI6 guys, former Mossad people, or people on the fringes, who bring the tactics that they learned in the intelligence service to the investigative and corporate world,” the head of a boutique investigation firm told me. “Smaller players who will do whatever it takes.”
Here is the Sheelah Kholkatkar piece (New Yorker), via Hugo Lindgren.
1. Jeju to Seoul
2. Melbourne to Sydney
3. Mumbai to Delhi
4. Fukuoka to Tokyo
5. Rio de Janeiro to Sao Paulo
6. Sapporo to Tokyo
7. LA to San Francisco
8. Brisbane to Sydney
9. Cape Town to Johannesburg
10. Beijing to Shanghai
These elegant pictures from Reuters illustrate the price of goods in Venezuela as the inflation rate hits 82,700 percent.
This one suggests some obvious substitutions.
Using a unique data set on the universe of assistant professor hires at top-50 economics departments from 1980-2005, we show that the adoption of gender-neutral tenure clock stopping policies substantially reduced female tenure rates while substantially increasing male tenure rates.
That is from Heather Antecol, Kelly Bedard, and Jenna Stearns in a forthcoming AER, via Claire Lehmann
4. MIE: art museum highbrow lingerie.
5. It matters where a woman is born (NYT), and has a persistent effect on her lifetime earnings: “…the beliefs a woman grows up with can shape her future behavior in a way that affects her career and salary.”
The vertigo starts, as upon arrival in the airport there are few direct clues as to which country you might be in. You will see people from every part of this hemisphere, and furthermore the Azerbaijanis won’t stand out as such. The facility itself looks like an average of five or six other airports, like how some TV shows film in Canada to get that generically American look.
Matters seem to go downhill as one rides into town — “Dubai, yet without the charm” is how I described it to Yana in an early, premature email. Yet this petro-city grows on you quickly, and I don’t just mean the cherry jam. Closer to town center there are interesting buildings in every direction, and of three sorts: the medieval Old City with walls, a blossoming of late 19th century European architecture (and they are still doing contemporary copies of it), and the Brasilia-Dubai like modern buildings.
In 1905 about half of the world’s oil was produced in or near Baku. In 1942, it was Stalingrad that stopped Hitler from taking the place over and perhaps changing the course of history. Not long ago, oil and gas were estimated to account for sixty percent of the gdp of Azerbaijan.
And you can see that money being spent, to the benefit of the tourist I might add. Baku has perhaps the most attractive and walkable seaside promenade. The walker has views of the Caspian, of spectacular buildings, of the port, and there are multiple paths with beautiful gardens and cactuses and baobab trees, benches everywhere, Eurasians in abundance, and in August the weather is perfect for a long stroll every night.
Baku is reputed to be the world’s lowest capital city, standing about 28 meters below sea level.
It is the first Shiite country I have visited, and it seems less conservative than say the Turkey of ten years ago, for instance in terms of dress and demeanor. A small percentage of women wear burkhas, most of all by the seaside walk, but the look of their companions suggests most are tourists or expats.
In short, several generations of communist-enforced atheism do have a persistent effect. One Azerbaijani, with whom I had an extended dialogue through a translator, stressed to me how much universal Soviet education elevated the region (and she was not pro-Soviet or pro-communist by any means). The Azerbaijanis address me in Russian, as few can converse with ease in English.
The police go to great lengths to limit jaywalking, which is in any case dangerous. The city roads are wide, and like some parts of central Brasilia have few traffic lights. Never have I wished so often that I was on the other side of the street as in Baku.
Baku has three working synagogues, and, unlike in almost every other country in the world, they do not require police protection. It is a remarkably safe city.
There is strong sentiment here that Nagorno-Karabakh, technically a part of Azerbaijan but not controlled by the government in over twenty years, is ruled by “Armenian terrorists,” backed by Putin. This issue, largely neglected outside the region, is likely to flare up again. When I applied for a visa, I had to answer whether I come from Armenian blood (no). It seems like a much less friendly conflict than say between the Israelis and the Palestinians.
Baku was the easternmost part of the Roman Empire — does that make it European?
“Relatives may eat your flesh but they won’t throw away your bones” is an old Azerbaijani saying.
Newborns are washed in salt water, to make them truthful and bold.
As a vacation spot, I recommend three to four days here for anyone looking for something off the beaten path, but without logistical difficulties. Here is Wikipedia on Baku.
The prices at the Manheim auto auction have been better than usual lately, especially since President Donald Trump started pushing for new tariffs on imported vehicles, parts as well as the steel and aluminum used to make cars, said Jonathan Smoke, the chief economist of Cox Automotive. Cox runs the auction, which draws dealers from around the country to bid online or in person at the auction house.
Smoke tracks three-year old vehicles as an indicator of pricing for used cars, since that’s when a lot of leases are turned in and that vintage is the most common pre-owned vehicle for sale at any given time. A three-year-old Nissan Altima costs about $100 more now than it did just last month. A three-year-old Toyota Camry costs $400 more than it did a year ago.
“The fact this happened almost exactly two weeks after Trump announced he was going to enact tariffs can’t be ignored,” Smoke said, referring to tariffs Donald Trump has proposed on new vehicles imported to the United States…
While the tariffs on new car sales haven’t been enacted yet, the mere threat appears to be driving up prices on new cars. Auto dealers at the Manheim auction Aug. 10 theorized that consumers who might be in the market for a car in the next six to nine months are buying now to hedge against possible rising prices.
The literature that has previously shown that boys outperform girls in math tests has failed to explain the underlying causes of the phenomenon. This math gender gap has been documented to vary across countries, and shown to grow as students advance through school. In this paper I suggest that these patterns may be explained by sample selection caused by gender differences in schooling’s opportunity costs, which lead lower-achieving males to drop out. I present and test the implications of a labor supply model that examines the opportunity cost of school attendance and, thereby, the observed math gender gap. Using an exogenous policy change, the launch of a conditional cash transfers program in Colombia,
I estimate that sample selection explains between 50 percent and 60 percent of the gap. Estimates of non-parametric bounds show that selection in the lower quantiles of the male distribution explains a significant portion of the gap.
There are three tables, all close enough to chat, and at them there was TC, a Saudi family with a husband, two kids and a woman in full burkha, and a woman from a fine New York City neighborhood, perhaps 65 years old. Suddenly, the NYC woman paused from her chat with me:
NYC woman, to Saudi table: (With a strong NYC accent) So where are you all from?
Saudi Man: Saudi Arabia.
NYC woman: Is that your wife in there?
Saudi Man: Yes.
NYC woman: Is she driving yet?
Saudi Man: No
NYC woman: Why not?
Saudi Man: She does not need to.
NYC woman: I was just wondering, because they made such a big deal out of it on TV. And I was thinking maybe they aren’t all driving yet.
Saudi Man: She does not need to.
NYC woman: But why not?
Saudi Man: Madam, you live in New York City. Are you driving yet?
5. How are the prospects for Irish unification looking these days? What is the correct underlying model here?
6. “People’s recollections after driving a familiar road were very poor, with most memories involving the bad behavior of other motorists.” Link here.
7. Witchcraft in the #MeToo era (NYT, satire).