Friday, May 10, 2013

Employee Award Programs

The Dirty Laundry of Employee Award Programs: Evidence from the Field 

Timothy Gubler, Ian Larkin & Lamar Pierce
Harvard Working Paper, February 2013

 Abstract: Many scholars and practitioners have recently argued that corporate awards are a "free" way to motivate employees. We use field data from an attendance award program implemented at one of five industrial laundry plants to show that awards can carry significant spillover costs and may be less effective at motivating employees than the literature suggests. Our quasi-experimental setting shows that two types of unintended consequences limit gains from the reward program. First, employees strategically game the program, improving timeliness only when eligible for the award, and call in sick to retain eligibility. Second, employees with perfect pre-program attendance or high productivity suffered a 6-8% productivity decrease after program introduction, suggesting they were demotivated by awards for good behavior they already exhibited. Overall, our results suggest the award program decreased plant productivity by 1.4%, and that positive effects from awards are accompanied by more complex employee responses that limit program effectiveness.

That's Not Entrepreneurship

A remarkable claim, a remarkably naive, dangerous claim, by Mr. Obama and Co.

"New health law encourages entrepreneurship."  To the extent that people are able to work for themselves, that may even be true.

But the law itself encourages rent-seeking, the pursuit of artificial gains without creating any actual value. An example:  Physician-owned hospitals will make out like bandits.  Because the new law actually encourages them to behave like bandits.

I knew entrepreneurship.  Entrepreneurship was a great concept.  Entrepreneurship was a friend of mine.  Mr. Obama, you are NO entrepreneur.  Entrepreneurship is a virtue.

Nod to Kevin Lewis for the links, not the interpretation, which is no one's fault but mine.

Thursday, May 09, 2013

I feel like Treebeard...

On guns and gun rights, I feel like Treebeard.  I am not entirely on anyone's side, because no one is entirely on my side.

An interesting post, linking to a piece I had not seen

The 2nd AmendmentA well regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed.

So, "the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed" says clearly that there is in fact an individual right to own guns, not just that states can have militias that are "well-regulated."

But that whole "well-regulated" part means something.  So registration, background checks, responsible storage, and required training...why not?  I'd say the closest analogy is a driver's license.  You can't be told "no, no driver's license for you!"  It's a "shall issue" situation.  But if you misuse, behave dangerously, etc., you lose the license.  And you have to register your car, and have training, and so on.  The state can impose substantial regulations on purchase, ownership, and use of guns.

I'm pretty sure that exactly no one agrees with me.  The NRA-ites want to be able to fight the 82nd Airborne (seriously?), and the anti-gun-ites want to pretend the 2nd Amendment doesn't exist.  (Problem, my lefty friends:  as Sandy Levinson sensibly admits, if you can ignore the 2nd Amendment, you can ignore the 1st, 4th, and 5th Amendments.  They come as a package.)

Wednesday, May 08, 2013

Good advice for young researchers

Andrew Oswald gives us, "Things I would have found it useful to have been told when I was a young researcher".

Well worth reading the whole thing, but here is a good bit:

"The main difference between world-class researchers and sound researchers is not intellect; it is energy, single-mindedness, more energy, and the ability to withstand what will sometimes feel like never-ending disappointment, tiredness and psychological pain. Tenacity is almost everything."

I have found this, along with much of the rest of Andrew's piece, all too true.

Grade Inflation? Some data

Tuesday, May 07, 2013

My Bromance with Eric Mazur

People, it's all come out in the open now. I've been publicly outed. You can see the spicy details right here.


Estimating Benefits from University-Level Diversity

Barbara Wolfe & Jason Fletcher
NBER Working Paper, February 2013

Abstract: One of the continuing areas of controversy surrounding higher education is affirmative action. The Supreme Court has agreed to hear Fisher v. Texas, and their ruling may well influence universities’ diversity initiatives, especially if they overturn Grutter v. Bollinger and rule that diversity is no longer a “compelling state interest.” But what lies behind a compelling state’s interest? One issue that continues to require more information is estimating and understanding the gains for those attending colleges and universities with greater diversity. Most existing studies are either based on evidence from one institution, which has issues of both selectivity and limited “treatments,” or focus on selective institutions, which also face issues of selection bias from college choice behaviors. In this research we use Wave 3 of Add Health, collected in 2001–02 of those then attending college. Add Health collected the IPEDS number of each college and matched these to the racial/ethnic composition of the student body. We convert these data into an index of diversity and then ask whether attending a college/university with a more diverse student body influences a variety of outcomes at Wave 4 (2007–08), including years of schooling completed, earnings, family income, composition of friends, and probability of voting. Our results provide evidence of a positive link between attending a college with greater diversity and higher earnings and family income, but not with more schooling or the probability of voting.


Do Racial Preferences Affect Minority Learning in Law Schools?

Doug Williams
Journal of Empirical Legal Studies, June 2013, Pages 171–195

Abstract: An analysis of the The Bar Passage Study (BPS) reveals that minorities are both less likely to graduate from law school and less likely to pass the bar compared to whites even after adjustments are made for group differences in academic credentials. To account for these adjusted racial gaps in performance, some researchers put forward the “mismatch hypothesis,” which proposes that students learn less when placed in learning environments where their academic skills are much lower than the typical student. This article presents new results from the BPS that account for both measurement-error bias and selection-on-unobservables bias that makes it more difficult to find a mismatch effect if in fact one exists. I find much more evidence for mismatch effects than previous research and report magnitudes from mismatch effects more than sufficient to explain racial gaps in performance.

Nod to Kevin Lewis

Monday, May 06, 2013

Monday's Child is Full of Links

1.  What if they didn't have a prom, and everybody came? 

2.  An American success story.  Hotness!  Maybe if we just relied on foreigners, instead of lazy Americans, we'd have more American success stories.  Let's trade California for Vietnam, and call it even.

3.  You are not allowed to use your money to affect public opinion...if your opinions differ from mine. Otherwise, it's cool.

4.  On Dr. Sowell, and what's "possible."

5.  Anonyman claims he IS, in fact a hipster, sort of, if you squint and have had several drinks and it's near closing time.  As evidence he reminds us on the Simpsons episode on artisanal donuts...and power.   He's got a point:  Anonyman is a LOT like that cop who asks twice a day, "What have I become?"

6. Speaking of Artisanal Nuclear Power...

7.  Google Translate is good.  But it's not great.

8.  You probably saw this.  My rule is that there should be some tolerance for racism/sexism/bigotry if (a) the person is clearly trying to be funny and (b) if the person succeeds and it IS funny.  (I am paraphrasing the Camille Paglia rule of humor, by the way).  I don't think he was trying to be funny, and it wasn't funny.

9.  Anonyman may be going through a phase.  He may go into "affinity marketing" and move to Williamsburg.  (The one Brooklyn, not the colonial one.  Not near enough irony in the colonial one.  Ick.)  As for me, I could never be a hipster, no matter how much I tried.  I wore work work.  They had to be steel-toed, because I worked in a lumber yard.  Hipsters shower before work (if at all).  I had to shower after work.  Not really sure why pretending to be working class is cool.  I do know that lots of working class folks would be happy to have a hipster's trust fund, and trade places.  How's THAT for irony?

10.  Renan sends this map:  Developing/industrializing nations with a constitutional guarantee of a "free market."  Hard to see a pattern.

11.  I do feel bad for poor Reese Witherspoon.  She tried that whole "I'm an American citizen" thing, and it didn't go well for her.  You actually do have to do what the police tell you, ma'am.  The only reason you didn't know that is that you are not poor, and rarely have to deal with the pointy end of the spear.

12.  Slaves to the algorithm...

13.  Frampton comes again...suing for back pay, even though he was in jail.  I'm afraid I don't see this turning out well for him.  It may be that he did not get normal due process.  But if you are in jail on a felony conviction, in another country, the university has every right to suspend you without pay.

14.  What caused colony collapse?  No one really knows.  What saved us from colony collapse?  Capitalism.  I wrote about this once.  It's an interesting problem:  should beekeepers pay owners of nectar, or should owners of plants that need to be pollinated pay beekepers?  The answer....depends, but it's not what you think...

15.  Carbon democracy (!)

16.  The U.S. is not a democracy, and shouldn't be.  It's a constitutional republic.  Even when it comes to guns.  And Barry Snell has some thoughts on that.  Phone call for Prof. Joel Rosch...

Sunday, May 05, 2013

Money buys happiness, at the margin

Subjective Well-Being and Income: Is There Any Evidence of Satiation? 

Betsey Stevenson & Justin Wolfers 
NBER Working Paper, April 2013 

Abstract: Many scholars have argued that once "basic needs" have been met, higher income is no longer associated with higher in subjective well-being. We assess the validity of this claim in comparisons of both rich and poor countries, and also of rich and poor people within a country. Analyzing multiple datasets, multiple definitions of "basic needs" and multiple questions about well-being, we find no support for this claim. The relationship between well-being and income is roughly linear-log and does not diminish as incomes rise. If there is a satiation point, we are yet to reach it.

Nod to Kevin Lewis

Broken Windows and Giving Away Money

Grand Game!

Apparently, it doesn't matter how much we tax, as long as give the money away.  Because the people who receive the money will be made better off.

You can read it yourself!

A nod to EM