Wednesday, February 15, 2023

Paying Moms to Stay Home, Finland Edition: Home care benefits negatively affect the early childhood cognitive test results of children, decrease the likelihood of choosing academic high school, and increase youth crimes

Paying Moms to Stay Home: Short and Long Run Effects on Parents and Children. Jonathan Gruber, Tuomas Kosonen & Kristiina Huttunen. NBER Working Paper 30931, Feb 2023. DOI 10.3386/w30931

Abstract: We study the impacts of a policy designed to reward mothers who stay at home rather than join the labor force when their children are under age three. We use regional and over time variation to show that the Finnish Home Care Allowance (HCA) decreases maternal employment in both the short and long term. The effects are large enough for the existence of home care benefit system to explain the higher short-term child penalty in Finland than comparable nations. Home care benefits also negatively affect the early childhood cognitive test results of children, decrease the likelihood of choosing academic high school, and increase youth crimes. We confirm that the mechanism of action is changing work/home care arrangements by studying a day care fee reform that had the opposite effect of raising incentives to work – with corresponding opposite effects on mothers and children compared to HCA. Our findings suggest that shifting child care from the home to the market increases labor force participation and improves child outcomes.

We are more interested in the immoral and amoral than in the normies

Wylie, Jordan, and Ana P. Gantman. 2022. “People Are Curious About Immoral and Morally Ambiguous Others.” PsyArXiv. May 30. doi:10.31234/

Abstract: Looking to the popularity of superheroes, true crime stories, and anti-heroic characters like Tony Soprano, we investigated whether people are curious for moral extremity, especially moral badness. Across five experiments (N = 2,284), we examine moral curiosity, testing under what conditions moral minds spark information-seeking. In Experiment 1, we find that among the most widely watched Netflix shows over a five-month period, the more immoral the protagonist, the more hours people spent watching. In Experiments 2a and 2b, we find that when given a choice to learn more about morally good, bad, ambiguous, or average others, people preferred to learn more about morally extreme, both good and bad. Experiment 3 reveals that people are more curious about explanations for morally bad and ambiguous people compared to morally good ones. Finally, Experiment 4 tests the uniqueness of curiosity for moral ambiguity. We find that people are more drawn to moral rather than aesthetic ambiguity, suggesting that ambiguity, which is cognitively taxing and sometimes avoided, piques curiosity in the moral domain. These findings suggest that deviations from moral normativity, especially badness, spur curiosity. People are often curious about the morally corrupt; villains and antiheroes alike prompt engagement rather than avoidance.

This is how we are: "People are more likely to engage in critical thinking when assessing others' reasoning"

Anchoring in a Social Context: How the Possibility of Being Misinformed by Others Impacts One's Judgment. Joana Reis, Mário B. Ferreira, André Mata, Amanda Seruti and Leonel Garcia-Marques. Social Cognition, Vol 41, Issue 1, February 2023.

Abstract: Building on research about naïve theories of biases, we propose that people are more likely to engage in critical thinking when assessing others’ reasoning. Hence, anchoring effects should be reduced when anchor values are presented as others’ estimates and people perceive others as less knowledgeable (i.e., more prone to biases) than themselves. Three experiments tested this hypothesis by presenting the same anchors as other participants’ answers or without a specified source. This source manipulation was combined with explicit forewarnings about the anchoring effect, which have been shown to trigger debiasing efforts. In support of our hypothesis, results showed that anchors provided by a social source effectively reduced the anchoring effect and did so in a more reliable way than forewarnings. Furthermore, the response-time analysis in two of the experiments suggests that such attenuation was the result of deliberate adjustment.