ICPSR Research Paper Competition Winners

2013 Award Winners

First Place - Undergraduate

Student/Author: Alexander Janke
School Affiliation: University of Michigan
Paper Title: An Empirical Look at Malpractice Reform and the Intensive Margin of Physician Supply

Abstract: Evaluations of state malpractice reform effects on physician supply have focused on the extensive margin of supply. They use data from the A.M.A. Physician Masterfile to estimate effects on number of physicians practicing in a state/county. To a limited extent, recent papers have also addressed a possible impact of reform on the intensive margin of supply. This paper makes use of data from the Community Tracking Study Physician Survey to estimate the effect of noneconomic damage caps implemented in Nevada in 2002 and Colorado, Florida, Ohio, Oklahoma, Texas, and West Virginia in 2003 on physicians' willingness to accept Medicaid, Medicare and private insurance patients and on hours worked. The panel data model shows many statistically significant estimates. However, simple robustness tests suggest these estimates are misleading. The paper ends with a discussion of why the model may not be appropriate and how other strategies could yield more robust results.

First Place - Master's

Student/Author: Natasha Yurk
School Affiliation: Indiana University - Bloomington
Paper Title: The Strategic Parent: How School Performance Affects Parental Investment

Abstract: One of the most basic insights in the sociology of education is that parenting affects children's school performance, but we have yet to understand the reverse: whether and how children's achievement affects parental investment behaviors. The data used are from the Early Childhood Longitudinal Study-Kindergarten Cohort (ECLS-K) to analyze whether reading test results and teacher assessments of language and literacy skills predict a range of parental investment in the later grades. Findings suggest that parents follow a "Compensation" model in which they increase investment when children are struggling in school, but these behaviors vary by type of investment and other child and family characteristics. These patterns persist even when controlling for social class background. This research represents an important step toward developing a more dynamic, theoretical parenting model, in which parents view feedback from teachers and schools as signals for investment decisions.

First Place - RCMD

Student/Author: Sarah K. Allsberry
School Affiliation: Washington University in St. Louis
Paper Title: The Unbanked in the U.S.: Similarities and Differences between Previously Banked and Never Banked Households

Abstract: Past studies have been done on the "unbanked," those without bank accounts with traditional financial institutions. These studies treat the unbanked as a homogeneous group; however, recent studies are beginning to indicate a need to understand variation within this group. This study begins to fill this gap by comparing those with and without a history of bank account ownership to find differences in demographic characteristics and use of Alternative Financial Services (AFS). Using data from the 2009 Current Population Survey, Unbanked/Underbanked Supplement, a model was created binary logistic regression. The author found that there are significant differences in the history of bank account ownership in several areas, including among Hispanics compared to non-Hispanic households, single parent households, households in the South, and households that patronize AFS. The findings have implications for practice in financial education and services as well as future research.

Second Place - Undergraduate

Student/Author: Ryanne Kikue Fujita-Conrad
Undergraduate School Affiliation: Reed College
Paper Title: Accepting the Foreign: Perceived Threat, Foreigner Exclusionism, and Social Distance from Immigrants in the United States and Spain

Abstract: In the United States and Spain, rising immigrant populations have increased public debate over national immigration policy. Although both countries continue to struggle to come to terms with their foreign-born populations, these two nations have strikingly different immigration histories, which have shaped immigration policy and social attitudes toward immigrants. This project examines perceptions of immigrant populations in the United States and Spain. Allport's contact hypothesis and Blumer's group position theory are tested in regard to respondents' perceptions of economic and cultural threat. The effects of perceived economic and cultural threat on respondents' social distance from immigrants and immigration policy preferences are tested also. Logistic regression models are used in the analysis. Although both Allport's and Blumer's theories are supported, results highlight the differing processes observed in the United States and Spain. In this way, this project underscores the influence of contextual factors on individual-level intergroup processes.

Second Place - Master's

Student/Author: Christine Y. Zhang
Undergraduate School Affiliation: Columbia University
Paper Title: An exceptional Dream: Aspirations as a Determinant of Self-Reported Happiness in the US

Abstract: Though income inequality in the US has increased dramatically since the 1970s, empirical evidence has by and large failed to show a corresponding decline in Americans' overall happiness levels. A possible explanation for this somewhat counterintuitive phenomenon is Americans' belief that they live in a meritocratic, upwardly mobile society, broadly known as "American Exceptionalism," which mitigates the negative effects of inequality. However, this hypothesis is rarely analyzed statistically. The present study uses ordered logistic regression of individual-level data from the 2010 United States General Social Survey to examine the linkage between respondents' perception of upward mobility and belief in hard work as a path to success and self-reported happiness level. Results indicate that these factors are more important than objective measures of socioeconomic status in determining overall happiness. These findings provide evidence that the aspirational aspects of American Exceptionalism are salient components of individual well-being.

Second Place - RCMD

Student/Author: Lauren Marks
Undergraduate School Affiliation: Santa Clara University
Paper Title: Perceived Sources of Racial Inequalities and Class Standing: Impact on Justice Values of American Whites

Abstract: This study examined the effects of racial inequalities awareness and class standing on white respondents' views on racial and class justice. Data from two decades (1990-2010) of the General Social Survey were used. Insights from two qualitative interviews supplemented the quantitative findings. Multivariate regression analyses suggested that agency for redressing race and class inequalities were viewed differently depending on the perceived sources of the inequality. Awareness of structural racial inequality led to respondents favoring structural solutions to race and class inequalities. However, a person of higher class standing tended to place agency for class inequalities on the individual and consequently was less open to structural solutions. Theories that distinguish between race and class inequalities were used to explain the findings, with implications for distinct policies to address race and class inequalities.

2012 Award Winners

Winner - Undergraduate

Student/Author: Quentin Karpilow
Undergraduate School Affiliation: Kenyon College
Paper Title: Racial and Ethnic Threats in Pretrial Release Processing

Abstract: Although extant research highlights the importance of race in determining pretrial detention outcomes, few studies have examined the ecological factors that shape those extralegal disparities. Building on minority threat theories, this project uses hierarchical modeling techniques to examine how county-level ethnic and racial composition impacts pretrial release outcomes for adult defendants charged with drug felonies. Results indicate that racial and ethnic threats significantly influence the amount of bail set, the probability a defendant posts bail, and the likelihood a defentant is detained prior to trial. The paper concludes with a discussion of the structural differences between racial and ethnic threats.

Winner - Master's

Student/Author: Zornitsa Kalibatseva
Undergraduate School Affiliation: Michigan State University
Paper Title: A Symptom Profile Analysis of Depression in a Nationally Representative Sample of Asian Americans

Abstract: Past research has suggested the existence of differences in depressive symptoms, diagnosis, and treatment of depression among ethnic and racial groups. In particular, Asian Americans have been found to experience depression differently than European Americans. Using a symptom profile approach, the presentation of depressive symptoms was examined in a nationally representative sample of Asian Americans and compared to that of European Americans. This study used data from the Collaborative Psychiatric Epidemiology Surveys, which include the National Latino and Asian American Study (NLAAS) and the National Comorbidity Survey- Replication (NCS-R). Depressive symptom profiles of Asian Americans and European Americans who reported depressive experiences were compared in order to analyze the phenomenology of depression in these groups. Findings suggested that Asian Americans reported somatic and affective depressive symptoms equally. When compared to European Americans though, they endorsed a variety of symptoms less frequently. Clinical implications and directions for future research are discussed.

First Place - RCMD

Student/Author: Amanda Mireles
Undergraduate School Affiliation: Princeton University
Paper Title: Cultural Capital Investments: Concerted Cultivation and the Academic Achievement of Hispanic Kindergarten Students

Abstract: This study extends analysis of the role of cultural capital investment in the form of concerted cultivation on measures of academic achievement in the Hispanic population. Previous studies have limited analyses to white and black students only. Using data from the Early Childhood Longitudinal Study - Kindergarten Class of 1998-99 (ECLS-K), this study quantitatively tests Lareau's (2003) theory of concerted cultivation and its impact on measures of academic achievement for Hispanic students. Consistent with Bodovski and Farkas (2008), concerted cultivation is measured using 29 items concerning perceptions of parental responsibility, leisure time, parental relationships with school, and the number of children's books at home. This study uses three distinct outcome measures of academic achievement--general knowledge, mathematics, and literacy. Results of ordinary least squares regression analyses indicate that, for Hispanic students, concerted cultivation is positively and strongly associated with parental socioeconomic status but only modestly associated with measures of academic achievement.

Second Place - RCMD

Student/Author: Danae Ross
Undergraduate School Affiliation: Wayne State University
Paper Title: Black Feminism and Hip Hop: A Cross-Generational Disconnect

Abstract: Using the 1993 National Black Politics Study, this project employs bivariate and multivariate analyses to investigate the impact of strength of feminism on the likelihood of listening to rap music among black women. Contributing one of the very first statistically grounded arguments to the largely theoretical discourse in the emergent epistemology of Hip Hop Feminism, this research shows that age mediates the aforementioned relationship by positively corresponding with strength of feminism and negatively corresponding with the likelihood of listening to rap music. These findings suggest that, in addition to a more recent study that allows this relationship to be assessed in a contemporary context (which acknowledges Black feminist consciousness as more than a biological phenomenon), a cross-generational dialogue is also crucial to revealing a collective identity, and to birthing and sustaining a sociocultural and political movement which fosters the change for which both Black feminists and young people have cried out.

2011 Award Winners

First Place Winner - Undergraduate

Student/Author: Tommaso Pavone
Undergraduate School Affiliation: University of Michigan
Paper Title: Do More Parties Make for Happier Voters? Democratic satisfaction and representation across thirty-six democracies

Abstract: Extensions of Downsian theory of party competition imply that the greater the number of political parties, the greater the perception of representation and satisfaction with the democratic process. However, this logic has been subjected to increasing scrutiny. This paper conducts a cross-national analysis of public opinion data from thirty-six democracies to assess whether a) feeling represented by a party increases democratic satisfaction, and b) whether more parties induce a greater sense of party representation. Multivariate regression results find that feeling represented by a party correlates with greater satisfaction with the democratic process. The more striking results emerge when testing the relationship between the number of parties (as measured by the effective number of electoral parties (ENEP) and parliamentary (ENPP) parties) and party representation. Namely, although more parliamentary parties correlate with greater perceived representation, the opposite is true for the number of electoral parties. This implies that more parties do not necessarily make for happier voters.

Second Place Winner - Undergraduate

Student/Author: Erin R. McMichael
Undergraduate School Affiliation: California State University - Northridge
Paper Title: External versus Internal Motivators as Predictors for LGBTQ-Directed Bullying Behavior in Adolescents

Abstract: There are a number of influences that predict bullying behavior. Participants in this study were 10th grade male and female adolescents from various American high schools, graduating class of 2000 (N = 1211, 80.5 percent white, 9.3 percent black, 10.1 percent other, mean age = 16.33, SD = .602). The participants were given a social attitudes survey that included questions about their relationships with parents, peers, and feelings of self-worth, and for this exploratory study were used to predict usage of anti-gay remarks. Respondents who reported hearing parental use of anti-gay remarks strongly predicted their own use of such epithets above all other hypothesized predictor variables (ß = .37, p < .01). Special consideration should be given to external factors such as exposure to biased language as being far more influential over internally-based motivators such as self-esteem and quality of relationships with parents.

First Place Winner - Master’s

Student/Author: Sayon Deb
Graduate School Affiliation: Boston University
Paper Title: The Long Term Effects of Colonial Land Tenure: Micro Evidence from India

Abstract: This paper uses household survey data from India to examine the impact of historic land tenure institutions on economic and social outcomes for households today. It offers evidence on specific channels through which the structure and quality of land tenure (i.e. revenue collection) systems could persist today. We find that districts where land ownership was dominated by landlords, today have lower annual income, per capita consumption, and cumulative household asset levels than districts which were characterized by non-landlord tenure systems. Households in landlord districts are more likely to have narrower social networks and lower levels of memberships in community organizations, weaker propensity to work collectively in solving communal problems, and are more likely to be subject to crime than district where non-landlord systems were prevalent. Our results are significant and robust to a diverse set of controls.

Second Place Winner - Master’s

Student/Author: Douglas Rice
Graduate School Affiliation: Pennsylvania State University
Paper Title: The Impact of Supreme Court Activity on the Judicial Agenda: Calling to Action or Settling the Law

Abstract: The ability of the Supreme Court to impact the federal judicial agenda is of primary impor- tance in understanding both the policymaking power of the Court and the agenda of the entire federal judiciary. A traditional, legal perspective holds that the justices of the Court settle ques- tions of law and close the door on future litigation, reducing agenda attention for policy areas. More recently, an interest group perspective suggests the sitting Court encourages litigation within prioritized policy areas through signals, enhancing future policy attention. I analyze the impact of Supreme Court activity on the overall judicial agenda and observe a pattern consis- tent with a legal perspective. When the Supreme Court issues a decision, it settles law in a policy area and reduces attention to that policy area throughout the judiciary.

Winner - RCMD

Student/Author: Whitney Boyer
Graduate School Affiliation: Washington University in St. Louis
Paper Title: Educational Outcomes for Latino Immigrants in Los Angeles County: The Importance of Gender, Immigrant Generation, and Mother’s Education Level

Abstract: In the United States, the proportion of Latinos is growing at a rate faster than any other minority group; the Pew Research Center reports that Latinos have accounted for 50 percent of the United States population growth since the year 2000. Research since the 1960s has consistently identified a gap between Latinos and Whites in educational outcomes. In order to expand on this research, this study uses a recent data set from the L.A.FANS (2001) survey to explore the effects of theoretically supported variables on educational attainment. The final logistic regression model was significant (X² (8)=90.27, p<0.001), with gender, mother’s educational attainment, and father’s nativity as predictors of high school graduation. Contrary to prior studies, income and household language were not significant predictors of educational outcomes in this sample.

2010 Award Winners

First Place Winner - Undergraduate

Student/Author: Evangeleen Pattison
Undergraduate School Affiliation: The City College of New York
Paper Title: The Expansion of Higher Education: Access and Opportunity or Exclusion and Stratification?

Abstract: The U.S. Department of Education estimates that in the year 2018, the number of people earning masters and doctoral degrees will rise by 99.7% and 109.3%, respectively since 1998, suggesting the growing importance of advanced degrees. As such, it is no longer enough to look at higher education as the traditional dichotomy of college versus non-college graduates. This study uses MIDUS I, a nationally representative sample (N=4,718) of U.S. adults ages 27-47 and 48-68 to gauge shifts in the role of parental education since the expansion of American higher education following World War II. Did this expansion increase access and opportunity for all students or heighten methods of stratification and exclusion? Key findings include: (1) there is a significant relationship between parental education and degree completion of offspring (2) this relationship becomes stronger as the degree becomes more advanced; and (3) the relationship of paternal education is stronger among the younger cohort; however, maternal education is stronger among the older age cohort. Findings suggest that there has been an increase in processes of stratification at the highest levels of degree completion.

Second Place Winner - Undergraduate

Student/Author: Matthew S. Michaels
Undergraduate School Affiliation: University of Florida
Paper Title: Americans’ Ever-Changing Attitudes toward Homosexuality

Abstract: Would increasingly liberal trends in Americans’ attitudes toward homosexuality observed in prior research persist in an updated data set? Do specific demographic characteristics predict variations in attitudes toward homosexuality? The preceding two questions were the main focus of this study. Data from the General Social Surveys (GSS) were examined using correlational and regression analyses. Specific variables for analysis were selected based on prior research. The results showed that age, education, and political views were the most significant predictors of attitudes toward homosexuality. Contrary to prior research, it was found that race and sex were not as significant as previously believed. Implications for legislation and social policy are discussed.

Third Place Winner - Undergraduate

Student/Author: Evelyn Williams
Undergraduate School Affiliation: Kent State University at Stark
Paper Title: Satisfaction of Needs and Well-Being: An Application of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs to the Population of Kenya

Abstract: Maslow (1954) proposes that humans are motivated by needs that are arranged in a pyramidal hierarchy. Failure to achieve the highest need level results in flawed personal development and poor psychological well-being. However, much of the developing world struggles to obtain the basic needs of daily life. Therefore, the purpose of the present study is to apply Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs to examine possible relationships between basic, safety, and belongingness need fulfillment and the physical and mental health ratings of the general population of Kenya, Africa. By conducting secondary data analysis on The Afrobarometer (Mittullah et al., 2005), we examined this hypothesis. Individuals who failed to satisfy basic needs reported greater physical health concerns. In regards to psychological well-being, the failure to satisfy any of the three need types (i.e., basic, safety, or belongingness needs) was associated with increased levels of fatigue and exhaustion related to worry and anxiety.

First Place Winner - Master's

Student/Author: Katie Farina
Graduate School Affiliation: University of Delaware
Paper Title: The Effects of Situational Crime Prevention on Crime and Fear among College Campuses and Students

Abstract: Previous research has suggested that situational crime prevention tactics could be useful on college campuses. College campuses represent a unique environment for their students. By their very nature and population, these institutions may put students at risk for victimization. As such, it is important to examine the effects of situational crime prevention techniques at the student level. The results could prove influential for future prevention and policy endeavors. This study sets out to examine situational crime prevention tactics in relation to crime rates and fear of crime for college students. OLS regression analyses will be conducted using data from ICPSR that contain a sample of 3,472 students from 12 four-year postsecondary institutions in the United States.

Second Place Winner - Master's

Student/Author: Boning Cao
Graduate School Affiliation: Baruch University, City University of New York
Paper Title: Is Higher Cognitive Ability Associated with a More Stable Marriage?

Abstract: Many studies have examined the impacts of common demographic characteristics on an individual’s marriage. While being widely used as an indicator of behavior in psychological studies, cognitive ability is rarely studied as a factor that affects marital stability, which highly depends on the behaviors involved in marriage. This paper investigates the relationship between an individual’s cognitive ability and marital stability. Event history analysis is conducted with Cox proportional hazard model using the data from the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth 1979 (NLSY79). Age-adjusted AFQT scores are used as a measure of cognitive ability. Some factors that may affect both intelligence and marital stability are included to make sure the effect of cognitive ability is not confounded. The result indicates that higher cognitive ability is associated with greater marital stability and lower risk of marital dissolution, particularly for non-Hispanic Whites.

2009 Award Winners

First Place Winner - RCMD

Student/Author: Nathaniel Becker
Undergraduate School Affiliation: Yale University
Paper Title: The Transmission of Political Ideologies through Social Networks: an Empirical Approach (PDF 342K)

Abstract: This paper investigates the formation and transmission of political ideology through social networks. Elaborating on information-updating models within computer science and network theory, I formalize a model for the transmission and distribution of political beliefs through social networks. I then turn to a dataset provided by the Minority Data Resource Center (MDRC) which chronicles the political opinions of individuals from several minority groups within the Houston area to evaluate the extent to which the political ideologies "converge" amongst individuals within the same social network. Using ethnic minority presence as an instrument for social network connectedness, I find some circumstantial evidence that the tightness and closure of minority networks may impact the correlation between individuals' views. Interestingly, the most compelling evidence comes with issues of low political salience to the survey respondents. However, the ability to generalize from this study is limited because the measured impact of social networks is relatively small and the conclusions are not uniformly robust.

First Place Winner - ICPSR

Student/Author: Austin Lee Wright
Undergraduate School Affiliation: University of Texas - Austin
Paper Title: Why Do Terrorists Claim Credit? Attack-Level and Country-Level Analyses of Factors Influencing Terrorist Credit-taking Behavior (PDF 336K)

Abstract: Terrorism is commonly considered a coercive political strategy employed to manipulate a broader audience, enraptured by the horror of the terrorist's dramatic acts of violence. However, if generating publicity and disrupting public life is the raison d'etre of modern terrorism, why do so many contemporary attacks remain unclaimed by their perpetrators? Over the past forty years, the proportion of attacks where credit is taken has fallen dramatically. By 2004, roughly 14.5% of all attacks were claimed. This paper is the first attempt to explore credit-taking behavior using cross-national data. I test theoretical claims using two datasets (of attack-level and country-level factors) and a series of statistical methods. I conclude that the factors influencing credit-taking are neither equally powerful across geographic space nor time and conclude that several major theories of terrorist decision-making fail to adequately explain terrorists' decision to claim ownership over their deeds.

Second Place Winner - ICPSR

Student/Author: Jared Koerten
Undergraduate School Affiliation: University of Wisconsin - Eau Claire
Paper Title: Anti- Communism and Idealism: The Peace Corps and U.S. Foreign Policy in the Third World, 1960-1966 (PDF 230K)

Abstract: This paper seeks to uncover the political motivations behind the creation of the Peace Corps in the United States. While many historians attribute both anti-Communism and idealism as impetuses behind the founding of the Peace Corps, an important trend in the relative importance of these factors over time remains unexplored. This thesis uses primary source documents to show how the United States perceived the importance of the Peace Corps in containing Communism during the organization's formative years. After its establishment, however, a sense of idealism became synonymous with the Peace Corps. During this period, a romantic notion of the Peace Corps garnered support for the organization at home and abroad. Discussions of the organization's strategic importance in the Cold War disappeared. In examining actual program implementation, however, this rhetorical shift towards idealism appears to be only a facade, as programs were guided by U.S. foreign policy in the Cold War.

2008 Award Winners

First Place Winner - RCMD

Student/Author:Sarah Ireland
Undergraduate School Affiliation: Yale University
Paper Title: Intergenerational Mobility By Race: Can The Black Middle Class Reproduce Itself (PDF 312K)

Abstract: What is the fate of the black middle class? The rise of the black middle class is a relatively recent phenomenon, and as such, it remains to be seen whether it successfully passing its prosperity to the next generation. Building upon various models used by Featherman & Hauser (1978), Hout (1985), and Mazumder (2005), this paper uses intergenerational elasticities and mobility tables to examine the transmission of class status from one generation to the next. Data from the Panel Survey of Income Dynamics (PSID) is used to compare the differences in mobility between middle class blacks and whites over the period from 1968-2003. The results indicate that African-Americans in the middle class show higher levels of class persistence than middle class whites and that the black middle class is actually growing over time, while the number of whites in the middle class is shrinking.

First Place Winner - ICPSR

Student/Author:Poh Lin Tan
Undergraduate School Affiliation: Princeton University
Paper Title: Examining the Economic Basis of Ethical Vegetarianism (PDF 196K)

Abstract:People who choose to be vegetarian for ethical reasons often believe that their choice has a small but positive impact on the welfare of animals. This paper examines the main economic arguments that are widely used in support of this belief as well as competing theories that claim that ethical vegetarianism in fact leads to more animal suffering. Using national chicken and pork production data from the United States Department of Agriculture and household-level expenditure data, I provide some estimates of the elasticity of quantity of each meat type produced to changes in consumer expenditure on it. The data suggest that elasticity of supply is positive and smaller than unity, and that values are larger when the changes in expenditure are negative. On the other hand, there is little evidence to support the rival hypothesis that ethical vegetarianism results in greater animal suffering.

Second Place Winner - ICPSR

Student/Author:Corina D Mommaerts
Undergraduate School Affiliation: University of Michigan
Paper Title: The Effect of Property Taxes on Elderly Residential Geography: A County-Level Analysis (PDF 164K)

Abstract:This study seeks to better understand the effects of local property taxes and public education expenditures on where the elderly live at the county level in the United States. I use population data from the 1980, 1990, and 2000 Decennial Censuses, and finance data from the Census of Governments from 1977 through 2002, as well as average property tax rates from the National Association of Home Builders. Using ordinary least squares and panel regressions, I examine various specifications of this econometric model. The empirical results suggest that there is a negative relationship between property taxes and elderly residential locations overall. The relationship between education expenditure and elderly residential location is somewhat blurred, suggesting that the widely held view that seniors oppose education spending may not hold true. Taken as a whole, these findings imply that elders focus more on property taxes rather than the allocation of these taxes.

Third Place Winner - ICPSR

Student/Author:Caroline M. Savello
Undergraduate School Affiliation: Yale University
Paper Title: Manipulating the "Truth": The Unintended Consequences of Truth-in-Sentencing Laws in California, 1992-1996 (PDF 528K)

Abstract:Determinate sentencing policies have changed the face of the criminal justice system over the past 30 years, but the most recent trend-Truth-in-Sentencing-aims not to readjust sentencing conditions, but rather to ensure that convicts serve most of their assigned prison sentences. However, this study finds that TIS has unexpectedly influenced sentencing behavior. After the adoption of Truth-in-Sentencing laws in California in 1994, violent offenders saw fewer convicted counts, less severe convictions, and decreased assigned prison sentences. Moreover, robbery and aggravated assault offenders are spending less time in prison after the implementation of Truth-in-Sentencing, suggesting that the law has not achieved its aims and may have even worsened the situation in California.

2007 Award Winners

First Place Winner

Student/Author: Scott M. Noveck
Undergraduate School Affiliation: Princeton University
Paper Title: Testing the Theory of Rational Crime with United States Data, 1994-2002 (PDF 1MB)

Abstract: Do criminals in the United States respond rationally to changes in incentives, or is crime inherently an irrational phenomenon? Building upon models used by Ehrlich (1973), Levitt (2002), and others, this paper uses a model of rational crime to examine the elasticities of seven index crimes with respect to changes in law enforcement expenditures and economic incentives using state-level United States data from the years 1994 through 2002. Our empirical results are consistent with the economic model of criminal behavior first proposed by Becker (1968), in which higher levels of law enforcement reduce crime through a deterrence effect, and other recent studies suggesting that aggregate crime rates have a significant rational component.

Second Place Winner

Student/Author: Jonathan Robert Young
Undergraduate School Affiliation: Union College
Paper Title: Vaccinating the Next Generation: Are Children with Foreign-Born Mothers Less Likely to Receive Recommended Immunizations? (PDF 524K)

Abstract: Immunizations improve the health of the population and reduce health care costs by preventing the onset of infectious diseases. Unfortunately, many children in the U.S. are undervaccinated. Using cross-sectional data from the 2002 National Health Interview Survey, this paper investigates whether foreign-born mothers are less likely to vaccinate their children. The number of children born to immigrants has increased substantially in recent years, and they form a significant portion of the population. Because they are typically unfamiliar with the U.S. health care system, immigrants are less likely than non-immigrants to seek medical care. This paper finds that foreign-born mothers are less likely than native mothers to take their children to health care professionals for the Haemophilus influenzae type b vaccination and the diphtheria and tetanus toxoids and pertussis vaccination. Thus, to improve childhood vaccination rates, physicians should target foreign-born mothers and educate them about the importance of these immunizations.

Third Place Winner

Student/Author: Kristian Voss
Undergraduate School Affiliation: State University New York at New Paltz
Paper Title: Support for the Far Right: The Desire for Cultural Preservation in an Increasingly Globalized and Multicultural Europe (PDF 512K)

Abstract: In this study I set out to explain support for far right parties in countries of Western Europe that have been democratic since the end of World War II. Using individual level analysis of survey data from the European Social Survey 2004/2005 and country level analysis of aggregate and survey data from the Eurobarometer 59.2, I am able to offer an explanation of support for the far right. The results show that cross-national differences in support for far right parties are particularly the result of public opinion on cultural preservation as a reaction against increased immigration of foreign peoples.

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