The relationships among intelligence, race, human development, and genetics are among the most important topics for students of inequality. These topics are also sites for recurring ideological battles, most recently involving Jason Richwine’s research on Hispanic immigration to the US.
There has been a persistent argument that intelligence is more or less impervious to environmental intervention, but this is not the consensus of recent research. So if the last time you paid attention to psychological research on intelligence, you need to catch up. Here’s a quick way to do it.
Your genes can increase your risk of developing a smoking habit. In a great new study, Avshalom Caspi and his colleagues show that you can use individual genomic information to predict (to some degree) who will or will not smoke. I’ll describe this finding and then ask whether medicine is ready to predict your future smoking history by reading your genome.
A puzzle: income inequality between the top 1% and the rest has surged in the last few years, yet support for redistribution among the general public has actually declined (see figure below).
Do people not care about inequality, or do they not know the facts?
To test this hypothesis, Ilyana Kuziemko recently conducted an online experiment using members of the Amazon Mechanical Turk community (essentially an online labor market where individuals complete short computer-based tasks for negotiated wages). Continue reading
Timely as ever, I thought I’d finally get around to writing something about this Reinhart & Rogoff business. If you’re reading this blog, there’s a good chance you’ll be familiar with the story – a while ago, two high profile economists, Carmen Reinhart and Ken Rogoff, announced a finding with big implications for the austerity debate. They claimed that there was a strong negative relationship between national debt and economic growth. And further, that there was a pronounced ‘cliff’ at a 90% debt-to-GDP ratio – if a country crossed over this debt threshold, its prospects for economic growth were suddenly pretty dismal.
A new paper says that the income tax rate in socially useful jobs should be lower than in socially useless ones – here, regular guest-poster Charlotte Cavaille gives this argument a once-over, as part of a pair of posts on tax.
With the sharp growth of income inequalities well known to readers of this blog, researchers puzzle over the reasons behind “the absence of a breakthrough in American Politics that offers alternatives to growing inequality” (Stepan and Linz 2011). The most straightforward policies among the available “alternatives” is progressive taxation, an efficient way to decrease income and wealth inequalities (see Piketty’s work for an example).
Without simplifying much, one could argue that the study of progressive taxation is profoundly shaped by the researcher’s answers to the following two questions:
a) How much is mass support for progressive taxation shaped by the existing distribution of market income and wealth? – something I’ll return to in an upcoming post
b) What are the consequences of income taxation on people’s behavior? Continue reading
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The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual, version 5 (DSM-5) will soon be officially released. This is the American Psychiatric Association’s official taxonomy of the mental disorders and the criteria that clinicians should use to identify and treat them. (And to bill insurance companies for them.) The DSM is designed to be a kind of periodic table of the elements for mental health research and practice. Thus the publication of a new edition is an important event and changes to several diagnoses have incited controversy. And now one of the most important voices in mental health research has weighed in on DSM-5. Continue reading
I’ve written before about how I think a lot of people’s antipathy towards the benefits system comes from their ideas about the sort of people benefits claimants are. That they are a special, different sort of person that is unworthy of help. There’s a horrible sort of circularity to it – being the kind of person who claims benefits makes you exactly the kind of person who doesn’t deserve them.
If you’re reading this blog, then you’re probably interested in ‘the truth’ – by which I mean that you’re interested in the way the world really is, rather than pretending it’s the way you want it to be. We tend to howl with rage whenever politicians lie to justify injustices, and there’s been a lot of eloquent evidence-based howls in recent weeks, including from Inequalities contributors Declan, Rob, and Lindsey.
But what if the truth doesn’t matter? What do we do if providing people with information doesn’t change their attitudes? And what if a focus on ‘mythbusting’ is actually unhelpful in persuading people to support progressive policies? These are major questions that I’ve written about previously & I’m going to return to over the year (culminating in a working paper), but for the time being there are two great studies that offer food for thought. Continue reading