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More adventurous than the average bear

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Friday, January 24, 2014

Links - 24th January 2014

Long-Run Effects of Unions on Firms - "A successful effort to unionize a workplace apparently reduces the market value of affected publicly-traded firms, even if there is no immediate change in their operating performance. In Long-Run Impacts of Unions on Firms: New Evidence From Financial Markets, 1961-1999 (NBER Working Paper 14709), co-authors David Lee and Alexandre Mas estimate that the average effect of a union win at a workplace is to decrease the market value of the affected business by at least $40,500 (in $1998) per worker eligible to vote, based on monthly stock prices for 24 months before and after a vote to unionize. Their simulations suggest that a policy-induced doubling of unionization in the United States would “lead to a 4.3 percent decrease in the equity value of all firms at risk of unionization.”"

EMPLOYMENT AND UNEMPLOYMENT EFFECTS OF UNIONS - "In this paper, we present estimates of the effect of changes in union strength on the likelihood of being employed or in the labor force. The results of this paper suggest that in areas where the percent of the labor force that is unionized is high or where the unionlnon-union wage premium is large; workers are less likely to be employed or in the labor force and more likely to be unemployed. Besides altering the number of workers employed or in the labor force, unions reduce the likelihood of having a full-time job by altering the mix of part-time and full-time jobs in the economy. Thus, unions appear to adversely affect the average workweek for those who remained employed. These disemployment effects from unions were concentrated mainly among females and young men. with little if any negative impact on prime age males. These disemployment effects, howevel-, were in general found to be
quite small. with unionism having a more pronounced effect on the mix of part-time and full-time employment, and hence the workweek, than on the number of jobs. All of these effects were dwarfed in importance by the state of the local labor market and the level of an individual's human capital or skills"

Do healthier foods and diet patterns cost more than less healthy options? A systematic review and meta-analysis - "for socioeconomically disadvantaged populations, the relatively higher cost of healthy foods may be an impediment to eating better. On the other hand, Americans at all income levels allocate too little of their food budgets towards healthy foods. A daily price difference of ∼$1.50 translates to ∼$550 higher annual food costs per person. For many low-income families, this additional cost represents a genuine barrier to healthier eating. Yet, this daily price difference is trivial in comparison with the lifetime personal and societal financial burdens of diet-related chronic diseases. For example, suboptimal diet quality was recently estimated to account for 14% of all disability-adjusted life years in 2010 in the USA; if translated to a proportion of national health expenditures in 2012, this corresponds to diet-related healthcare costs of $393 billion/year or more than $1200/year for every American. Our findings highlight the nuanced challenges and the opportunities for reducing financial barriers to healthy eating."
This doesn't take into account the less direct costs (you need to shop more often and spend longer preparing your food)

North Carolina Town Councilman Resigns In Klingon - "Waddell even ended his resignation with a Klingon proverb, "Perhaps today is a good day (to) resign." The councilman wrote his four-line resignation letter in Klingon as an inside joke, and submitted an English translation and an extended letter entirely in English. "Folks don’t know what to think of me half the time," Waddell said in a Thursday interview with the Observer. "I might as well have one last laugh.""

Food deserts: If you build it, they may not come | The Economist - "Some academics would go further, calling the appearance of many food deserts nothing but a mirage—and not the real problem. Research by the Centre for Public Health Nutrition at the University of Washington found that only 15% of people shopped for food within their own census area. Critics also note that focusing on supermarkets means that the USDA ignores tens of thousands of larger and smaller retailers, farmers' markets and roadside greengrocers, many of which are excellent sources of fresh food... neither USDA nor the Institute of Medicine of the National Academies has been able to establish a causal link between food deserts and dietary health. In fact, both agree that merely improving access to healthy food does not change consumer behaviour. Open a full-service supermarket in a food desert and shoppers tend to buy the same artery-clogging junk food as before—they just pay less for it. The unpalatable truth seems to be that some Americans simply do not care to eat a balanced diet, while others, increasingly, cannot afford to. Over the last four years, the price of the healthiest foods has increased at around twice the rate of energy-dense junk food"

Convicted: Two get death sentence in blasphemy case - "According to the prosecution, Riaz Ahmed, 34, and Ijaz Ahmed, 38, residents of Haroonabad, devotees of Chaman Sarkar in Gujrat district, had claimed in 2011 that they had seen God... Judge Chaudhry Zafar Iqbal also fined the convicts Rs100,000 each."
Ahh, Pakistan!

'Memories' pass between generations - "A Nature Neuroscience study shows mice trained to avoid a smell passed their aversion on to their "grandchildren""

Don't Buy A DSLR - "Photokina 2012, going on this week, might be the moment when the DSLR loses its ascendancy among aspiring amateurs. Two years ago, DSLR was the obvious best option. Alternatives (which I'll get into) were in their infancy, still too expensive and too limited to really recommend, and entry-level DSLRs were starting to get really good, so if you wanted to jump into photography, you bought a DSLR. That's what everyone's always said (well, "always" meaning in the digital age). Want to get into photography? DSLR. But that's no longer true. DSLRs have serious weaknesses for the entry-level photographer, and suddenly there are options without those weaknesses."

Japanese Company is looking for 300 Black People ONLY …WTF!!! | Loco in Yokohama
Presumably the writer has never heard of medical trials which are sometimes also segregated by race

Dating Study: Women Are Choosier Than Men - "In the study, participants were asked before the session to fill out a questionnaire about what they were looking for in a mate, listing such categories as wealth and status, family commitment, physical appearance, healthiness and attractiveness. After the session, the researchers compared what the participants said they were looking for with the people they actually chose to ask for another date. Men's choices did not reflect their stated preferences, the researchers concluded. Instead, men appeared to base their decisions mostly on the women's physical attractiveness. The men also appeared to be much less choosy. Men tended to select nearly every woman above a certain minimum attractiveness threshold, Todd said. Women's actual choices, like men's, did not reflect their stated preferences, but they made more discriminating choices, the researchers found. The scientists said women were aware of the importance of their own attractiveness to men, and adjusted their expectations to select the more desirable guys. "Women made offers to men who had overall qualities that were on a par with the women's self-rated attractiveness. They didn't greatly overshoot their attractiveness," Todd said, "because part of the goal for women is to choose men who would stay with them" But, he added, "they didn't go lower. They knew what they could get and aimed for that level." So, it turns out, the women's attractiveness influenced the choices of the men and the women."

Women Seek Less-Dominant Dates in Recession - "When thinking about the economic recession, women exhibit less interest in alpha males in favor of guys who call themselves "natural followers," a new study suggests. The results are surprising because they fly in the face of what evolutionary psychologists expect from women's mate choices. According to evolutionary theory, women will seek men who provide resources and protection. The new study found that women do still prefer high earners for long-term partnerships and marriage, but that for the short term they seem less concerned about snagging a macho man during a recession... Men with the highest earning potential were judged as the best husband material — somewhat surprising, Julal told LiveScience, as all of the volunteers were university students whose own potential earning power was high. "Compared to other historical periods, women are in a better position to support themselves independently, financially. For this reason, partner's earning potential may be less important," Julal said."Our findings suggest that when modern women think of marriage, the men who are most appealing are those who have high earnings. Things don't seem to have changed.""
I don't see why this is a problem for the paradigm. Recession = more danger = less fooling around (which could endanger one's primary relationship/chances of getting a primary relationship with a better provider)

Human mating: A buyers' market | The Economist - "WOMEN often complain that dating is like a cattle market, and a paper just published in Biology Letters by Thomas Pollet and Daniel Nettle of Newcastle University, in England, suggests they are right. They have little cause for complaint, however, because the paper also suggests that in this particular market, it is women who are the buyers... They have examined data from the 1910 census of the United States of America and discovered that marriage is, indeed, a market. Moreover, as in any market, a scarcity of buyers means the sellers have to have particularly attractive goods on offer if they are to make the exchange... in states where the sexes were equal in number, 56% of low status men were married by the age of 30, while 60% of high status men were. Even in this case, then, there are women who would prefer to remain single rather than marry a deadbeat. When there were 110 men for every 100 women (as, for example, in Arizona), the women got really choosy. In that case only 24% of low-status men were married by 30 compared with 46% of high-status men. As the men went west, then, so did their marriage opportunities."

The economic value of skills: Skills that pay the bills | The Economist - "'[R]eturns to skills are systematically lower in countries with higher union density, stricter employment protection, and larger public-sector shares.' The analysis shows, for example, that a 25% point increase in union density (the difference, say, between Belgium and the United Kingdom) leads to a 3.5% point lower wage increase for each one-standard-deviation increase in numeracy skills. But free-market types should not gloat. Pretty much unexplored in the paper is the question of whether high returns-to-skills are a good thing. Highly skilled people might simply be extracting “rents”—economists’ shorthand for earning more than they would need to continue doing what they are doing"
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