Wednesday, January 9, 2019

Civil service exam based on classics strengthened civil service's social prestige & weakened that of commerce; result is a more educated population & more Confucian temples, but lower wealth level

Mattingly, Daniel, When State-Building Hinders Growth: The Legacy of China's Confucian Bureaucracy (November 28, 2018).

Abstract: Do countries with a long history of state-building fare better in the long run? Recent work has shown that earlier state-building may lead to higher levels of present-day growth. By contrast, I use a natural experiment to show that the regions of China with over a thousand years of sustained exposure to state-building are significantly poorer today. The mechanism of persistence, I argue, was the introduction of a civil service exam based on knowledge of Confucian classics, which strengthened the social prestige of the civil service and weakened the prestige of commerce. A thousand years later, the regions of China where the Confucian bureaucracy was first introduced have a more educated population and more Confucian temples, but lower levels of wealth. The paper contributes to an important debate on the Great Divergence, highlighting how political institutions interact with culture to cause long-run patterns of growth.

Keywords: state building, culture, growth, bureaucracies, institutions

Programmed altruistic, adaptive death that increases fitness could occur in C. elegans & S. cerevisiae; could promote worm fitness by enhancing inclusive fitness, or worm colony fitness through group selection

Does senescence promote fitness in Caenorhabditis elegans by causing death? Jennifer N. Lohr, Evgeniy R. Galimov, David Gems. Ageing Research Reviews,

•    Senescent death of older inviduals could benefit younger kin
•    Theory rules out such programmed death in outbred, dispersed populations
•    C. elegans breed as non-dispersed, clonal populations of protandrous hermaphrodites
•    Under these conditions programmed, adaptive death could evolve

Abstract: A widely appreciated conclusion from evolutionary theory is that senescence (aging) is of no adaptive value to the individual that it afflicts. Yet studies of Caenorhabditis elegans and Saccharomyces cerevisiae are increasingly revealing the presence of processes which actively cause senescence and death, leading some biogerontologists to wonder about the established theory. Here we argue that programmed death that increases fitness could occur in C. elegans and S. cerevisiae, and that this is consistent with the classic evolutionary theory of aging. This is because of the special conditions under which these organisms have evolved, particularly the existence of clonal populations with limited dispersal and, in the case of C. elegans, the brevity of the reproductive period caused by protandrous hermaphroditism. Under these conditions, death-promoting mechanisms could promote worm fitness by enhancing inclusive fitness, or worm colony fitness through group selection. Such altruistic, adaptive death is not expected to evolve in organisms with outbred, dispersed populations (e.g. most vertebrate species). The plausibility of adaptive death in C. elegans is supported by computer modelling studies, and new knowledge about the ecology of this species. To support these arguments we also review the biology of adaptive death, and distinguish three forms: consumer sacrifice, biomass sacrifice and defensive sacrifice.

More than 30% in individuals' perceived income justice can be attributed to genetic variation, the rest is mostly driven by idiosyncratic environmental effects; no evidence for gene-environment interactions

Neugart, Michael and Yildirim, Selen, What Determines Perceived Income Justice: Evidence from the German TwinLife Study (November 23, 2018).

Abstract: Whether individuals perceive their income as being fair has far reaching consequences in the labor market and beyond. Yet we know little on the determinants of variation in perceived income justice across individuals. In this paper we ask whether genes can explain parts of the variation. To this end, we analyze data from the German TwinLife study. We find that more than 30% in individuals' perceived income justice can be attributed to genetic variation. The rest is mostly driven by idiosyncratic environmental effects. We, furthermore, do not find evidence for gene-environment interaction effects.

Keywords: perceived income justice, twins, behavioral genetics
JEL Classification: D10, D90

Decreased brain connectivity in smoking contrasts with increased connectivity in drinking

Decreased brain connectivity in smoking contrasts with increased connectivity in drinking. Wei Cheng et al. eLife 2019;8:e40765,

Abstract: In a group of 831 participants from the general population in the Human Connectome Project, smokers exhibited low overall functional connectivity, and more specifically of the lateral orbitofrontal cortex which is associated with non-reward mechanisms, the adjacent inferior frontal gyrus, and the precuneus. Participants who drank a high amount had overall increases in resting state functional connectivity, and specific increases in reward-related systems including the medial orbitofrontal cortex and the cingulate cortex. Increased impulsivity was found in smokers, associated with decreased functional connectivity of the non-reward-related lateral orbitofrontal cortex; and increased impulsivity was found in high amount drinkers, associated with increased functional connectivity of the reward-related medial orbitofrontal cortex. The main findings were cross-validated in an independent longitudinal dataset with 1176 participants, IMAGEN. Further, the functional connectivities in 14-year-old non-smokers (and also in female low-drinkers) were related to who would smoke or drink at age 19. An implication is that these differences in brain functional connectivities play a role in smoking and drinking, together with other factors.

Discovered: different brain areas linked to smoking and drinking

Approximately 13% of Europe’s workers have a bad boss; these bosses are most common in the Transport sector and large organizations

How Common are Bad Bosses? Benjamin Artz, Amanda H Goodall, and Andrew J Oswald. September 2018.

Abstract: Bosses play an important role in workplaces. Yet little is currently known about a foundational question. Are the right people promoted to be managers, team leaders, and supervisors? Gallup data and the famous Peter Principle both suggest that incompete nt bosses are likely to be all around us. This paper’s results uncover a different, and more nuanced, conclusion. By taking data on 35 nations, the paper provides the first statistically representative international estimates of the extent to which employees have ‘bad bosses’. Using a simple, and arguably natural, measure, the paper calculates that approximately 13% of Europe’s workers have a bad boss. These bosses are most common in the Transport sector and large organizations. The paper discusses its methodology, performs validation checks, and reviews other data and implications.

Keywords: bosses, leadership, job satisfaction, well-being.
JEL codes: J28, I31, M54

Intra‐cortical myelin mediates personality differences

Intra‐cortical myelin mediates personality differences. Nicola Toschi, Luca Passamonti. Journal of Personality, OCt 2018,

Objective: Differences in myelination in the cortical mantle are important neurobiological mediators of variability in cognitive, emotional, and behavioral functioning. Past studies have found that personality traits reflecting such variability are linked to neuroanatomical and functional changes in prefrontal and temporo‐parietal cortices. Whether these effects are partially mediated by the differences in intra‐cortical myelin remains to be established.

Method: To test this hypothesis, we employed vertex‐wise intra‐cortical myelin maps in n = 1,003 people from the Human Connectome Project. Multivariate regression analyses were used to test for the relationship between intra‐cortical myelin and each of the five‐factor model’s personality traits, while accounting for age, sex, intelligence quotient, total intracranial volume, and the remaining personality traits.

Results: Neuroticism negatively related to frontal‐pole myelin and positively to occipital cortex myelin. Extraversion positively related to superior parietal myelin. Openness negatively related to anterior cingulate myelin, while Agreeableness positively related to orbitofrontal myelin. Conscientiousness positively related to frontal‐pole myelin and negatively to myelin content in the dorsal anterior cingulate cortex.

Conclusions: Intra‐cortical myelin levels in brain regions with prolonged myelination are positively associated with personality traits linked to favorable outcome measures. These findings improve our understanding of the neurobiological underpinnings of variability in common behavioral dispositions.

Perfectionism, negative motives for drinking, and alcohol-related problems: Perfectionism predicted alcohol problems, but not quantity of alcohol consumption

Perfectionism, negative motives for drinking, and alcohol-related problems: A 21-day diary study. Sean P. Mackinnon et al. Journal of Research in Personality, Volume 78, February 2019, Pages 177-188.

•    This study examined the relationship between perfectionism and alcohol use and alcohol problems.
•    Perfectionism variables correlated with avoidance-based drinking motives.
•    Nondisplay of imperfection indirectly predicted alcohol-related problems.
•    Perfectionism predicted alcohol problems, but not quantity of alcohol consumption.

Abstract: We explored links between two perfectionism facets and alcohol-related problems. We predicted perfectionistic cognitions and nondisplay of imperfection would indirectly predict alcohol problems through negative affect, coping motives, and conformity motives, but would be unrelated to quantity of alcohol consumption. Participants included 263 young adult drinkers collected from two sites using self-report surveys with a 21-day, once-per-day measurement. Participants were mostly Caucasian (78.3%), female (79.5%), and young (M = 21.37, SD = 1.89). Data were analyzed using multilevel structural equation modeling. Nondisplay of imperfection (but not perfectionistic cognitions) had a serial indirect effect on alcohol-related problems through negative affect, followed by conformity motives. Other findings varied across analyses (fixed vs. random) and analysis level (between vs. within). Open Data/Methods: