JFI Links of Note: Minimum wage, consequences of climate change

Reuters/Oxford Digital News Report 2017, #media, #trust, #communication, #recsys:

All the key findings are worth a look. To single out a few:

  • Growth in social media for news is flattening out in some markets, as messaging apps that are (a) more private and (b) tend not to filter content algorithmically are becoming more popular. The use of WhatsApp for news is starting to rival Facebook in a number of markets including Malaysia (51%), Brazil (46%), and Spain (32%).
  • In most countries, we find a strong connection between distrust in the media and perceived political bias. This is particularly true in countries with high levels of political polarisation like the United States, Italy, and Hungary.

Full report here; key findings here.

NBER on economic/social outcomes of refugees in the US, #economics, #immigration, #metrics:

Despite the size of the U.S. refugee resettlement program, there is surprisingly little research about how well refugees do economically and socially in the U.S. after they are resettled…

Our results indicate that, at ages 19-24 and 23-28, refugees who enter the U.S. before the age of 14 graduate high school and college, respectively, at the same rates as U.S.-born survey respondents, consistent with Schoellman’s 2016 analysis of refugees that arrived in the U.S. from Indochina before the age of six.  On the other hand, at ages 19-24 and 23-28, the high school and college completion rates, respectively, for refugees that enter after age 14 decline monotonically by age at entry to the U.S.  Supplementary analyses suggest that the poor outcomes for older teens may largely be due to language difficulties and/or the fact that many children in this age range enter the country as unaccompanied minors. However, we also find that refugees who arrived as children of any age have much higher school enrollment rates than U.S.-born respondents of the same age.  As a result, observed differences in high school graduation between refugees and natives observed at ages 19-24 disappear when we examine them 10 years later.

Jeff Mosenkis, at Chris Blattman’s blog, notes: “The authors estimate over their first 20 years in the U.S. refugees pay about $21,000 more in taxes than they receive in benefits.”

Short summary of the working paper here.

Note: if you would like a full-length copy of the paper and don’t have access, feel free to respond to this email and we will send it to you.

A debate on #geoengineering research:

Raymond Pierrehumbert writes in the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists:


To understand why albedo hacking is such a bad idea, we first have to understand the practically irreversible effects that carbon dioxide emissions have on climate … Our Nature article on the way our energy choices determine the character of the Anthropocene for thousands of years to come gives an idea of the duration of today’s human imprint on future climate.

To be sure, I can actually imagine a world in which a small and strictly limited amount of albedo modification could sensibly be deployed as a complement to strong and largely successful efforts to bring carbon dioxide emissions towards zero, accompanied by successful deployment of technologies for actively removing the gas from the atmosphere. But that would be a world with a truly exceptional level of international agreement, fact-based decision-making, and cooperation towards shared goals.

Full post here, including Pierrehumbert’s “slippery slope” critique of Harvard’s field experiments.

Pierrehumbert’s post above feels like an extension of a multi-person debate posted on Medium last fall. Oliver Morton takes issue with the language like Pierrehumbert’s that refers to “irreversible effects” of our CO2 emissions. Morton highlights the possibility, often neglected in the long timescales of climate science, that humans might improve our technologies and our behavior:

In his contribution to Dot Earth on the subject, Ray Pierrehumbert (one of the authors of the NCC paper, and someone I know a bit and admire a great deal) says “it’s true that given a thousand years or so — if technological civilization survives — it becomes likely that we could develop ways to remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.” If that is indeed the timescale appropriate to this discussion then maybe it really does not matter all that much. But why on Earth should we accept that such technologies are a thousand years away? After all, Ray’s analysis says that for technological civilization to be likely to survive there has to be a decisive global shift to new energy technologies within the current century. If the mix of energy technologies cheap, powerful and acceptable enough to bring this shift about includes one or more of solar, nuclear fusion or nuclear fission (and who, seriously, thinks it won’t?) then energy scarcity in subsequent centuries seems unlikely.

The Medium debate was compiled by Andy Revkin of the New York Times. Revkin’s summary of the debate is here.

+New York Times: Carbon in atmosphere is rising, even as emissions stabilize.

+Milken Institute Review: A conservative carbon tax.

+New York Times: Exxon Mobil lends its support to a carbon tax proposal.

A quick piece from Pew on the future of #libraries:

A new analysis of Pew Research Center survey data from fall 2016 finds that 53% of Millennials (those ages 18 to 35 at the time) say they used a library or bookmobile in the previous 12 months. That compares with 45% of Gen Xers, 43% of Baby Boomers and 36% of those in the Silent Generation. (It is worth noting that the question wording specifically focused on use of public libraries, not on-campus academic libraries.)

Article here.

Jay Coen Gilbert on alternative corporate structures, #benefit_corporations, #hyperspeculative:

Thanks to Lauren for recommending the article and providing the comments below.

“This article, “The ‘Fix’ is in: Changing the DNA of Global Capitalism” from Jay Cohen-Gilbert, co-founder of B Lab, discusses the ways in which big companies can behave more like rational, responsible, altruistic, adult human agents. This is accomplished primarily by rebuilding the legal structure of all corporations so as to maximize benefit (or at least minimize harm) to stakeholders, employees, communities and the environment. Basically he is arguing that global capitalism can be radically different—a very positive global force—if every corporation becomes a benefit corporation. He cites several recent events as evidence for the feasibility of this:

Coupled with recent capital markets and regulatory trends — like the recent successful shareholder votes on climate change at ExxonMobil and Occidental Petroleum led by State Street, Vanguard and Blackrock; the Blackrock Open Letter to S&P CEOs; the new ERISA guidance governing trillions of dollars in private pension assets from the U.S. Department of Labor on ESG (Environmental, Social and Governance) best practices; and new EU ESG disclosure requirements for large corporations — what we are seeing is an increasing appetite among investors and policymakers for innovations like the benefit corporation that combat short-termism, reduce systemic market risk, and create long-term value for society and for shareholders.

“Interestingly not mentioned is how such a prodigious change would generate a lot of work for organizations like Cohen-Gilbert’s own. One may wonder how an increase in demand for orgs that assist with the transition from regular corporation to benefit corporation will affect the nonprofit landscape, trends in higher education, and a wide array of research fields. Personally, I’m most intrigued by the philosophical and psychological implications his arguments have has regarding agency and metacognition.”



+The American Interest: Shakespeare’s politics. (H/t: AL Daily)

+The Atlantic: A clever new way to predict next year’s flu.

+Two bipartisan initiatives: Cass Sunstein at Bloomberg View on a regulatory reform bill; Noah Atchison at the Brennan Center on criminal justice reform.

+AEA: A paper on resource curse. (H/t, again, to Jeff Mosenkis)

+NPR: Making U.S. elections more secure wouldn’t cost much but no one wants to pay.

+The Guardian: Is the staggeringly profitable business of scientific publishing bad for science?

+ProPublica: Facebook’s secret censorship rules protect white men from hate speech but not black children.

+WSJ: A fascinating set of infographics about how Americans are spending their days.