Saturday, February 24, 2018

How to capture the 2 percent or more productivity potential of advanced economies

How to capture the 2 percent or more productivity potential of advanced economies. In Solving the productivity puzzle. By Jaana Remes, James Manyika, Jacques Bughin, Jonathan Woetzel, Jan Mischke, and Mekala Krishnan. McKinsey Global Institute ,

There is no guarantee that the productivity-growth potential we identify will be realized without taking action. While we expect financial crisis–related drags to dissipate, long-term drags may continue, such as slackening demand for goods and services due to changing demographics and rising income inequality and a rise in the share of low-productivity jobs; all of these factors may be further amplified by digitization. At the same time, the nature of digital technologies could fundamentally reshape industry structures and economics in a way that could create new obstacles to productivity growth.

Could long-term demand drags, amplified by digital, and potential industry-breaking effects of digital limit the productivity potential of advanced economies?

While we found that weak demand hurt productivity growth in the aftermath of the financial crisis, looking ahead, there is concern that some demand drags may be more structural than purely crisis-related. There are several “leakages” along the virtuous cycle of growth. Broad-based income growth has diverged from productivity growth, because declining labor share of income and rising inequality are eroding median wage growth, and the rapidly rising costs of housing and education exert a dampening effect on consumer purchasing power. It appears increasingly difficult to make up for weak consumer spending via higher investment, as that very investment is influenced first and foremost by demand for goods and services, and rising returns on investment discourage investment relative to earnings.
Demographic trends may further diminish investment needs through an aging population that has less need for residential and infrastructure investment. These demand drags are occurring while interest rates are hovering near the zero lower bound. All of this may hold back the pace at which capital per worker increases, impact company incentives to innovate, and thus impact productivity growth, slowing down the virtuous cycle of growth.
Digitization may further amplify those leakages, for example if automation compresses labor share of income and increase income inequality by hollowing out middle-class jobs, and may polarize the labor market into “superstars” versus the rest. Unless displaced labor can find new highly productive and high-wage occupations, workers may end up in low-wage jobs that create a drag on productivity growth. Our ability to create new jobs and skill workers will impact prospects for income, demand, and productivity growth.

In contrast to the belief that being inexpressive is cool, we find that in non-competitive contexts, being inexpressive makes people seem cold rather than cool

Warren, C., Pezzuti, T. and Koley, S. (), Is Being Emotionally Inexpressive Cool?. J Consum Psychol. Accepted Author Manuscript. doi:10.1002/jcpy.1039

Abstract: Despite a recognition that consumers want to be cool and value cool brands, the literature has only just begun to delineate what makes things cool. Writing by scholars, quotes by celebrities, and norms in fashion advertising are consistent with the view that people become cool by being emotionally inexpressive. The relationship between emotional expression and coolness, however, has not been empirically tested. Our research uses an experimental approach to examine whether being emotionally inexpressive makes people seem more or less cool than smiling. In contrast to the belief that being inexpressive is cool, we find that in non-competitive contexts–an endorser in a clothing advertisement and an athlete interacting with fans–being inexpressive makes people seem cold rather than cool. On the other hand, in competitive contexts–such as an athlete facing his opponent–being inexpressive makes people seem cool by making them appear dominant. Our results have important implications for marketers, advertisers, and consumers trying to cultivate a cool image.

Extremely or very preterm children born in the antenatal corticosteroids and surfactant era show large deficits in intelligence. No improvement in cognitive outcome was observed between 1990 and 2008

Cognitive Outcomes of Children Born Extremely or Very Preterm Since the 1990s and Associated Risk Factors: A Meta-analysis and Meta-regression. E. Sabrina Twilhaar et al. JAMA Pediatr. February 19, 2018. doi:10.1001/jamapediatrics.2017.5323

Key Points

Question:  What are the cognitive outcomes of children born extremely or very preterm since 1990, and what perinatal and demographic factors predict outcome?

Findings:  This meta-analysis of 71 studies (7752 extremely or very preterm and 5155 full-term children) showed a large (0.86 standard deviation) difference in intelligence between extremely or very preterm children and controls, which was stable in children born between 1990 and 2008. Bronchopulmonary dysplasia explained 65% of the variance in intelligence across studies.

Meaning:  Despite advancing perinatal care, cognitive outcomes of children born extremely or very preterm did not improve between 1990 and 2008; preventive strategies to reduce the incidence of bronchopulmonary dysplasia may be crucial to improve outcomes after extremely or very preterm birth.


Importance:  Despite apparent progress in perinatal care, children born extremely or very preterm (EP/VP) remain at high risk for cognitive deficits. Insight into factors contributing to cognitive outcome is key to improve outcomes after EP/VP birth.

Objective:  To examine the cognitive abilities of children of EP/VP birth (EP/VP children) and the role of perinatal and demographic risk factors.

Data Sources:  PubMed, Web of Science, and PsycINFO were searched without language restriction (last search March 2, 2017). Key search terms included preterm, low birth weight, and intelligence.

Study Selection:  Peer-reviewed studies reporting intelligence scores of EP/VP children ( < 32 weeks of gestation) and full-term controls at age 5 years or older, born in the antenatal corticosteroids and surfactant era, were included. A total of 268 studies met selection criteria, of which 71 covered unique cohorts.

Data Extraction and Synthesis:  MOOSE guidelines were followed. Data were independently extracted by 2 researchers. Standardized mean differences in intelligence per study were pooled using random-effects meta-analysis. Heterogeneity in effect size across studies was studied using multivariate, random-effects meta-regression analysis.

Main Outcomes and Measures:  Primary outcome was intelligence. Covariates included gestational age, birth weight, birth year, age at assessment, sex, race/ethnicity, socioeconomic status, small for gestational age, intraventricular hemorrhage, periventricular leukomalacia, bronchopulmonary dysplasia (BPD), necrotizing enterocolitis, sepsis, and postnatal corticosteroid use.

Results:  due to HTML formatting issues, in first comment to this post.

Conclusions and Relevance:  Extremely or very preterm children born in the antenatal corticosteroids and surfactant era show large deficits in intelligence. No improvement in cognitive outcome was observed between 1990 and 2008. These findings emphasize that improving outcomes after EP/VP birth remains a major challenge. Bronchopulmonary dysplasia was found to be a crucial factor for cognitive outcome. Lowering the high incidence of BPD may be key to improving long-term outcomes after EP/VP birth.

There is a teaching instinct; the capacity to teach may precede to even have a mature metacognition; and a teacher will benefit from the interaction, improving understanding on both contents of knowledge

The Teaching Instinct. Cecia I. Calero, A. P. Goldin, M. Sigman. Review of Philosophy and Psychology,

Abstract: Teaching allows human culture to exist and to develop. Despite its significance, it has not been studied in depth by the cognitive neurosciences. Here we propose two hypotheses to boost the claim that teaching is a human instinct, and to expand our understanding of how teaching occurs as a dynamic bi-directional relation within the teacher-learner dyad. First, we explore how children naturally use ostensive communication when teaching; allowing them to be set in the emitter side of natural pedagogy. Then, we hypothesize that the capacity to teach may precede to even have a mature metacognition and, we argue that a teacher will benefit from the interaction with her student, improving her understanding on both contents of knowledge: her own and her student’s. Thus, we propose that teaching may be the driving force of metacognitive development and may be occurring as an instinct from very early ages.

Both Gender and Cohort Affect Perceptions of Forenames: Perceived age, attractiveness, and intellectual competence

Both Gender and Cohort Affect Perceptions of Forenames, but Are 25-Year-Old Standards Still Valid? Claire Etaugh, Colleen Geraghty. Sex Roles,

Abstract: Forenames signify considerable information, not only about a person’s gender, but also about that person’s age, social class, and ethnicity, as well as characteristics such as attractiveness and intellectual competence. Kasof (1993) found that research (almost all done in the U.S.) often used gender-typed forenames to identify individuals’ sex or gender in studies of potential gender bias. However, because these forenames signified other traits unrelated to gender, results were confounded in ways often favoring male stimulus persons. To remedy this situation, Kasof identified pairs of female and male forenames that were matched on key variables such as perceived age, attractiveness, and intellectual competence. We found that since 1995, approximately one-third of researchers who manipulated the sex or gender of hypothetical women and men used Kasof’s matched female and male forenames to control for extraneous variables. However, our research with college students revealed that Kasof’s matched forename pairs are now outdated. College students rated Kasof’s forenames (which are characteristic of popular forenames of their parents’ cohort) as less attractive than their own cohort’s popular forenames. Consistent with Kasof’s results, however, popular male forenames continued to be rated as connoting greater intellectual competence than popular female forenames. Implications of these findings are discussed.

If it is true that some degree of talent is necessary to be successful in life, almost never the most talented people reach the highest peaks of success, being overtaken by mediocre but sensibly luckier individuals

Talent vs Luck: the role of randomness in success and failure. A. Pluchino. A. E. Biondo, A. Rapisarda. arXiv:1802.07068 [physics.soc-ph], Feb 20 2018,

The largely dominant meritocratic paradigm of highly competitive Western cultures is rooted on the belief that success is due mainly, if not exclusively, to personal qualities such as talent, intelligence, skills, efforts or risk taking. Sometimes, we are willing to admit that a certain degree of luck could also play a role in achieving significant material success. But, as a matter of fact, it is rather common to underestimate the importance of external forces in individual successful stories. It is very well known that intelligence or talent exhibit a Gaussian distribution among the population, whereas the distribution of wealth - considered a proxy of success - follows typically a power law (Pareto law). Such a discrepancy between a Normal distribution of inputs, with a typical scale, and the scale invariant distribution of outputs, suggests that some hidden ingredient is at work behind the scenes. In this paper, with the help of a very simple agent-based model, we suggest that such an ingredient is just randomness. In particular, we show that, if it is true that some degree of talent is necessary to be successful in life, almost never the most talented people reach the highest peaks of success, being overtaken by mediocre but sensibly luckier individuals. As to our knowledge, this counterintuitive result - although implicitly suggested between the lines in a vast literature - is quantified here for the first time. It sheds new light on the effectiveness of assessing merit on the basis of the reached level of success and underlines the risks of distributing excessive honors or resources to people who, at the end of the day, could have been simply luckier than others. With the help of this model, several policy hypotheses are also addressed and compared to show the most efficient strategies for public funding of research in order to improve meritocracy, diversity and innovation.

When listening to rain sounds boosts arithmetic ability

When listening to rain sounds boosts arithmetic ability. Alice Mado Proverbio et al. PLOS One,

Abstract: Studies in the literature have provided conflicting evidence about the effects of background noise or music on concurrent cognitive tasks. Some studies have shown a detrimental effect, while others have shown a beneficial effect of background auditory stimuli. The aim of this study was to investigate the influence of agitating, happy or touching music, as opposed to environmental sounds or silence, on the ability of non-musician subjects to perform arithmetic operations. Fifty university students (25 women and 25 men, 25 introverts and 25 extroverts) volunteered for the study. The participants were administered 180 easy or difficult arithmetic operations (division, multiplication, subtraction and addition) while listening to heavy rain sounds, silence or classical music. Silence was detrimental when participants were faced with difficult arithmetic operations, as it was associated with significantly worse accuracy and slower RTs than music or rain sound conditions. This finding suggests that the benefit of background stimulation was not music-specific but possibly due to an enhanced cerebral alertness level induced by the auditory stimulation. Introverts were always faster than extroverts in solving mathematical problems, except when the latter performed calculations accompanied by the sound of heavy rain, a condition that made them as fast as introverts. While the background auditory stimuli had no effect on the arithmetic ability of either group in the easy condition, it strongly affected extroverts in the difficult condition, with RTs being faster during agitating or joyful music as well as rain sounds, compared to the silent condition. For introverts, agitating music was associated with faster response times than the silent condition. This group difference may be explained on the basis of the notion that introverts have a generally higher arousal level compared to extroverts and would therefore benefit less from the background auditory stimuli.