Estimating the mechanisms that connect explanatory variables with the explained variable, also known as “mediation analysis,” is central to a variety of social-science fields, especially psychology, and increasingly to fields like epidemiology. Recent work on the statistical methodology behind mediation analysis points to limitations in earlier methods. We implement in Stata computational approaches based on recent developments in the statistical methodology of mediation analysis. In particular, we provide functions for the correct calculation of causal mediation effects using several different types of parametric models, as well as the calculation of sensitivity analyses for violations to the key.
While most existing theoretical and experimental literatures focus on how a high probability of repeated play can lead to more socially efficient outcomes (for instance, using the result that cooperation is possible in a repeated prisoner’s dilemma), this paper focuses on the detrimental effects of repeated play—the ‘‘dark side of the future.’’ I study a resource division model with repeated interaction and changes in bargaining strength. The model predicts a negative relationship between the likelihood of repeated interaction and social efficiency. This is because the longer shadow of the future exacerbates commitment problems created by changes in bargaining strength. I test and find support for the model using incentivized laboratory experiments. Increases in the likelihood of repeated play lead to more socially inefficient outcomes in the laboratory.
Identifying causal mechanisms is a fundamental goal of social science. Researchers seek to study not only whether one variable affects another but also how such a causal relationship arises. Yet commonly used statistical methods for identifying causal mechanisms rely upon untestable assumptions and are often inappropriate even under those assumptions. Randomizing treatment and intermediate variables is also insufficient. Despite these difficulties, the study of causal mechanisms is too important to abandon. We make three contributions to improve research on causal mechanisms. First, we present a minimum set of assumptions required under standard designs of experimental and observational studies and develop a general algorithm for estimating causal mediation effects. Second, we provide a method for assessing the sensitivity of conclusions to potential violations of a key assumption. Third, we offer alternative research designs for identifying causal mechanisms under weaker assumptions. The proposed approach is illustrated using media framing experiments and incumbency advantage studies.
In this Series in The Lancet, we review the past 50 years of Japan’s universal health coverage, identify the major challenges of today, and propose paths for the future, within the context of long-term population aging and the devastating crises triggered by the March 11 earthquake. Japan is recognised internationally for its outstanding achievements during the second half of the 20th century, in both improving the population’s health status and developing a strong health system. At the end of World War 2, in Japan, life expectancy at birth was 50 years for men and 54 years for women; by the late 1970s, Japan overtook Sweden as the world’s leader for longest life expectancy at birth. Japanese women have remained in the number one slot for 25 years, reaching a life expectancy of 86.4 years in 2009 (while Japanese men slipped to fifth longest living that year, at 79.6 years).
In 2011, Japan celebrates 50 years of kaihoken: health insurance for all. Universal health insurance was achieved in 1961, assuring access to a wide array of health services for the whole population. Since then, benefits have become more egalitarian while health expenditures have remained comparatively low: 8.5% of the gross domestic product and 20th out of countries in the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development in 2008. This achievement is all the more remarkable because the percentage of the population aged 65 years or older has increased nearly four-fold (from 6% to 23%) over the past 50 years.
This paper measures “debt disputes” between governments and
foreign private creditors in periods of sovereign debt crises. We
construct an index of government coerciveness, consisting of 9
objective sub-indicators. Each of these sub-indicators captures
unilateral government actions imposed on foreign banks and
bondholders. The results provide the first systematic account of
debt crises that goes beyond a binary categorization of default
versus non-default. Overall, government behavior and rhetoric
show a strong variability, ranging from highly confrontational to
very smooth crisis resolution processes. In a preliminary analysis
on the determinants of coercive behavior, we find political institutions
to be significant, while economic and financial factors play
a lesser role. These results open up an agenda for future research.
Is the Greek crisis an isolated case or the first of a series of future failing developed states? The Greek financial crisis is not on the front page of the Financial Times anymore, but it is far from over. The financial crisis did not manifest itself in Greece alone. Ireland has also sought an equally large EU-IMF rescue plan. Portugal and Spain have been under the microscope of the media and credit rating institutions. Such other instances in the Eurozone’s periphery have repercussions for the currency as a whole as well as for the EU (Straubhaar, 2010). Greece, Ireland, Portugal and Spain are members of the Eurozone area, which means that they share the same currency with economic giants such as Germany and France.
This article examines the compelling enigma of how
the introduction of a new international law, the North American Agreement on
Labor Cooperation (NAALC), helped stimulate labor cooperation and collaboration
in the 1990s. It offers a theory of legal transnationalism—defined as processes
by which international laws and legal mechanisms facilitate social movement
building at the transnational level—that explains how nascent international
legal institutions and mechanisms can help develop collective interests, build
social movements, and, ultimately, stimulate cross-border collaboration and
cooperation. It identifies three primary dimensions of legal transnationalism
that explain how international laws stimulate and constrain movement building
through: (1) formation of collective identity and interests (constitutive
effects), (2) facilitation of collective action (mobilization effects), and (3)
adjudication and enforcement (redress effects).
This Article examines the conflict-management role conferred
upon the law within Western liberal democracies in the context of cultural
tensions involving religious minorities. The Article finds that a threatened
hegemonic Christian identity and secular illiberal sentiments disguised in
liberal narratives often motivated legislative and judicial actions curtailing
the freedom of religious minorities in leading liberal democracies. Based
on these findings, this Article challenges the shortcomings of existing liberal
scholarship to account for the potential bias presented in the liberal
preference to facilitate cultural conflicts through legal means. Yet, the Article
suggests that law’s limitations as a neutral vehicle in conflict resolution
does not necessarily counteract its ability to manage conflicts. The
continued attractiveness of law as the principal conflict-resolution device
in liberal democracies springs from its political nature, namely the recognition
that shifts in political power could translate into legal change.
This article evaluates the role of United Nations special rapporteurs through a systematic study of the perspectives of mandate-holders. Qualitative interviews with current and former rapporteurs and their assistants reveal that three central tensions inherent in the rapporteur’s task give the rapporteur room for individual experimentation. First, the tension between UN affiliation and independent status allows the rapporteur to determine his/her orientation toward the UN. Secondly, the tension between competing obligations to treat sovereign states as partners and as adversaries forces the rapporteur to develop innovative strategies to address national sovereignty. Thirdly, the tension between the universal scope of thematic mandates and the impossibility of realising that scope enables the rapporteur to travel between specific contexts and international norms. The unparalleled autonomy afforded by the position enables rapporteurs to define rights in real time, responding to situations as they unfold rather than after the fact. For that reason, any reform of the special procedures system should preserve the role’s unique features. Rather than expend political will on ambitious structural changes, reform advocates should focus on increasing funding, resources, and pressure on states to cooperate.
Joanna Naples-Mitchell is a former Undergraduate Associate (2009-2010). Download PDF
Seven possible nominal variables are considered as candidates to be the anchor or target for monetary policy. The context is countries in Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC), which tend to be price takers on world markets, to produce commodity exports subject to volatile terms of trade, and to experience procyclical international finance. Three candidates are exchange rate pegs: to the dollar, euro and SDR. One candidate is orthodox Inflation Targeting. Three candidates represent proposals for a new sort of inflation targeting that differs from the usual focus on the CPI, in that prices of export commodities are given substantial weight and prices of imports are not: PEP (Peg the Export Price), PEPI (Peg an Export Price Index), and PPT (Product Price Targeting). The selling point of these production-based price indices is that each could serve as a nominal anchor while yet accommodating terms of trade shocks, in comparison to a CPI target. All seven nominal anchors deliver greater overall nominal price stability in our simulations than the inflationary historical monetary regimes actually followed by LAC countries (with the exception of Panama). A dollar peg does not particularly stabilize domestic commodity prices. As hypothesized, a product price target generally does a better job of stabilizing the real domestic prices of tradable goods than does a CPI target. CPI-targeters such as Brazil, Chile, and Peru respond to increases in world prices of imported oil with monetary policy that is sufficiently tight to appreciate their currencies, an undesirable property. A Product Price targeter or PEP country would respond to increases in world prices of its commodity exports by appreciation, a desirable property.
Scholars in science and technology studies (STS) have recently been called upon to advise governments on the design of procedures for public engagement. Any such instrumental function should be carried out consistently with STS’s interpretive and normative obligations as a social science discipline. This article illustrates how such threefold integration can be achieved by reviewing current US participatory politics against a seventy-year backdrop of tacit constitutional developments in governing science and technology. Two broad cycles of constitutional adjustment are discerned: the first enlarging the scope of state action as well as public participation, with liberalized rules of access and sympathetic judicial review; the second cutting back on the role of the state, fostering the rise of an academic-industrial complex for technology transfer, and privatizing value debates through increasing delegation to professional ethicists. New rules for public engagement in the United Sates should take account of these historical developments and seek to counteract some of the anti-democratic tendencies observable in recent decades.
Since America’s racial disparities remain as deep-rooted after Barack Obama’s election as they were before, it was only a matter of time until the myth of postracism exploded in our collective national face. –Peniel Joseph, The Chronicle of Higher Education, July 27, 2009
In electing me, the voters picked the candidate of their choice, not their race, which foreshadowed the historic election of Barack Obama in 2008. We’ve come a long way in Memphis, and ours is a story of postracial politics. –Congressman Steve Cohen, Letter to the Editor, The New York Times, September 18, 2009
Race is not going to be quite as big a deal as it is now; in the America of tomorrow . . . race will not be synonymous with destiny. –Ellis Cose, Newsweek, January 11, 20101
Are racial divisions and commitments in the United States just as deep-rooted as they were before the 2008 presidential election, largely eliminated, or persistent but on the decline? As the epigraphs show, one can easily find each of these pronouncements, among others, in the American public media. Believing any one of them—or any other, beyond the anodyne claim that this is “a time of transition”—is likely to be a mistake, since there will be almost as much evidence against as for it. Instead, it is more illuminating to try to sort out what is changing in the American racial order, what persists or is becoming even more entrenched, and what is likely to affect the balance between change and continuity. That, at any rate, is what we propose to do (if briefly) in this article.
We exploit variation in U.S. gubernatorial term limits across states and time to empirically estimate two separate effects of elections on government performance. Holding tenure in office constant, differences in performance by reelection- eligible and term-limited incumbents identify an accountability effect: reelection-eligible governors have greater incentives to exert costly effort on behalf of voters. Holding term-limit status constant, differences in performance by incumbents in different terms identify a competence effect: later-term incumbents are more likely to be competent both because they have survived reelection and because they have experience in office. We show that economic growth is higher and taxes, spending, and borrowing costs are lower under reelection-eligible incumbents than under term-limited incumbents (accountability), and under reelected incumbents than under first-term incumbents (competence), all else equal. In addition to improving our understanding of the role of elections in representative democracy, these findings resolve an empirical puzzle about the disappearance of the effect of term limits on gubernatorial performance over time.
Does an expansion of health insurance increase or decrease use of the emergency department (ED)? Both predictions can be justified logically. On the one hand, research on patient cost sharing predicts that by reducing the out-of-pocket costs of an ED visit, expanded insurance coverage, especially in the face of physician shortages, could result in increased ED utilization. This view has been echoed by elected leaders: Senator Jon Kyl (R-AZ), citing the Massachusetts experience with health care reform, claimed that if anything, universal coverage brought even higher rates of emergency room visits due to increased difficulty in getting appointments for outpatient physician visits. Others have predicted that expanded coverage would actually reduce ED use, since previously uninsured patients would now have access to preventive care. The relative importance of these countervailing forces is a question that clearly weighs on physicians: in a survey of emergency physicians conducted in April 2010, about 71 percent said they expected emergency visits to increase after the passage of the Affordable Care Act (ACA). To explore the importance of these effects, we examined the Massachusetts experience. The state's 2006 health care reform was a model for the ACA and reduced the proportion of Massachusetts adults under the age of 65 who were uninsured by 7.7 percentage points between the fall of 2006 and the fall of 2009. To determine whether any changes in ED utilization in Massachusetts reflected the effect of Massachusetts' reform or were merely representative of broader regional trends in ED utilization, we used New Hampshire and Vermont as control states.
The rise of offshoring of intermediate inputs raises important questions for commercial policy. Do the distinguishing features of offshoring introduce novel reasons for trade policy intervention? Does offshoring create new problems of global policy cooperation whose solutions require international agreements with novel features? In this paper we provide answers to these questions, and thereby initiate the study of trade agreements in the presence of offshoring. We argue that the rise of offshoring will make it increasingly difficult for governments to rely on traditional GATT/WTO concepts and rules—such as market access, reciprocity and non-discrimination—to solve their trade-related problems