and go we know not where


This article examines associations between the Great Recession and 4 aspects of 9-year olds’ behavior - aggression (externalizing), anxiety/depression (internalizing), alcohol and drug use, and vandalism - using the Fragile Families and Child Wellbeing Study, a longitudinal birth cohort drawn from 20 U.S. cities (21%, White, 50% Black, 26% Hispanic, and 3% other race/ethnicity).

The study was in the field for the 9-year follow-up right before and during the Great Recession (2007-2010; N = 3,311). Interview dates (month) were linked to the national Consumer Sentiment Index (CSI), calculated from a national probability sample drawn monthly to assess consumer confidence and uncertainty about the economy, as well as to data on local unemployment rates.

[W]e find that greater uncertainty as measured by the CSI was associated with higher rates of all 4 behavior problems for boys (in both maternal and child reports). Such associations were not found for girls.

{ Developmental Psychology | Continue reading }

photo { Yosuke Yajima }

‘If you have a garden and a library, you have everything you need.’ –Cicero


Most people own things that they don’t really need. It is worth thinking about why. […]

A policy aimed at curbing luxury shopping might involve higher marginal tax rates or, as a more targeted intervention, a consumption tax. As it becomes harder to afford a Rolex, people will devote more money to pleasures that really matter. Less waste, more happiness.

{ Boston Review | Continue reading }

photo { Teale Coco by Ben Simpson }

For when Eric eats a banana an amazing transformation occurs. Eric is Bananaman.


Chinese ice cream is different, and those differences reflect a different economic and technological context. American ice cream is mainly sold by grocery stores in large containers to be eaten at home. So the basic assumption is that people have freezers at home in which to store the ice cream. Even when ice cream is sold on-the-go, it is sold out as scoops out of those big containers. But historically in China most people did not have freezers at home, though many more of them do now. Ice cream in China is therefore usually sold by convenience stores or roadside stalls, in small packages to be eaten immediately. So rather than big vats of ice cream, it is mostly individual bars.

These constraints have pushed innovation in Chinese ice cream in different directions. You can get all kinds of amazing wacky ice cream flavors in the US, but they are all delivered in mostly the same form: a tub of ice cream eaten with a spoon. Chinese ice cream innovates on form and texture more than with ingredients, with many bars featuring not just crunchy outer layers of chocolate but interior elements made of various yummy substances.

The structural complexity of some ice-cream bars is so great that it’s common for the package to have a 3-D cutaway diagram to illustrate all the goodies on the inside.

{ Andrew Batson | Continue reading }

Hats off to da rich ones who flash and floss


Business Insiders is expecting to make 65 million dollars next year. […] It employs 325 people, meaning it currently brings in roughly $132,300 in revenue per employee. […]

BuzzFeed … $208,333 per employee

Gawker … $211,538 per employee

Vice … $457,500 per employee

The New York Times Company … between $440,000 and $450,000 per employee

{ The Awl | Continue reading }

‘Loves die from disgust,
 and forgetfulness buries them.’ –Jean de La Bruyère


The wedding industry has consistently sought to link wedding spending with long-lasting marriages. This paper is the first to examine this relationship statistically. We find that marriage duration is either not associated or inversely associated with spending on the engagement ring and wedding ceremony. Overall, our findings provide little evidence to support the validity of the wedding industry’s general message that connects expensive weddings with positive marital outcomes.

{ PDF | via Improbable }

‘It’s about a guy who acts like he knows everything and then comes back crawling on his knees, which has happened to me so many times.’ —Claire Boucher


An experiment was carried out in a French bar. A waitress briefly touched (or not) the forearm of a patron when asking him/her what he/she want to drink. Results show that touch increases tipping behavior although giving a tip to a waitress in a bar is unusual in France. The familiarity of tactile contact in France was used to explain our results.

{ International Journal of Hospitality Management | Continue reading }

still { Ingmar Bergman, The Passion of Anna, 1969 }

‘Where is the knowledge we have lost in information?’ —T.S. Eliot


We meta-analyzed the effects of sexual media, violent media, sexual ads, and violent ads on the advertising outcomes of brand memory, brand attitudes, and buying intentions. The meta-analysis included 53 experiments involving 8,489 participants.

Analyses found that brands advertised in violent media content were remembered less often, evaluated less favorably, and less likely to be purchased than brands advertised in nonviolent, nonsexual media. Brands advertised using sexual ads were evaluated less favorably than brands advertised using nonviolent, nonsexual ads. There were no significant effects of sexual media on memory or buying intentions. There were no significant effects of sexual or violent ads on memory or buying intentions.

As intensity of sexual ad content increased, memory, attitudes, and buying intentions decreased.

When media content and ad content were congruent (e.g., violent ad in a violent program), memory improved and buying intentions increased.

Violence and sex never helped and often hurt ad effectiveness.

{ Psychological Bulletin/American Psychological Association | PDF }

related { Allegation that ad-serving companies deliberately slow down web pages to maximise profit }

‘now available in black: rainbows!’ —‏@lady_products


“Water fountains have been disappearing from public spaces throughout the country over the last few decades,” lamented Nancy Stoner, an administrator in the Environmental Protection Agency’s water office. […]

By 1930, Chapelle says, bottled water had become “low class,” used only in offices and factories that couldn’t afford plumbing.

Attitudes began to shift in the 1970s, when Europe’s Perrier set its sights on the American market. In 1977, the company spent $5 million on an advertising campaign in New York, selling itself as a chic, upscale product. Yuppies lapped it up. “It was a lifestyle-defining product,” Chapelle says. By 1982, U.S. bottled-water consumption had doubled to 3.4 gallons per person per year. […]

U.S. consumption of bottled water quadrupled between 1993 and 2012 (reaching 9.67 billion gallons annually). […]

Today, 77 percent of Americans are concerned about pollution in their drinking water, according to Gallup, even though tap water and bottled water are treated the same way, and studies show that tap is as safe as bottled.

{ Washington Post | Continue reading }

art { Roy Lichtenstein, Girl in Water, 1965 }

A jink a jink a jawbo


After the near‐collapse of the world’s financial system has shown that we economists really do not know how the world works, I am much too embarrassed to teach economics anymore, which I have done for many years. I will teach Modern Korean Drama instead.

Although I have never been to Korea, I have watched Korean drama on a daily basis for over six years now. Therefore I can justly consider myself an expert in that subject.

{ Uwe E. Reinhardt, Princeton University | PDF | via Chris Blattman }

photo { Ji Yeo | plastic surgery in South Korea }

‘I would sum up my fear about the future in one word: boring.’ —J.G. Ballard


In a patent dispute between two pharmaceutical giants arguing over who owns the royalty rights to a lucrative wound-dressing solution, […] three judges coined a new legal definition of “one”. […]

The ConvaTec patent covered any salt solution “between 1 per cent and 25 per cent of the total volume of treatment”. However, Smith & Nephew devised a competing product that used 0.77 per cent concentration, bypassing, or so it believed, the ConvaTec patent. […]

Their lordships concluded that “one” includes anything greater or equal to 0.5 and less than 1.5  – much to the chagrin of Smith & Nephew.

{ The Independent | Continue reading }

Aristotle concluded more than 2,300 years ago that ‘the young are heated by Nature as drunken men by wine.’


Although parents often try not to favor one child, we examine whether specific environmental factors might bias parents to favor children of one sex over the other. […] a series of experiments show that poor economic conditions favor resource allocations to daughters over sons.

{ Journal of Consumer Research | PDF }

Revisiting reputation: How past actions matter


If you sold every share of every company in the U.S. and used the money to buy up all the factories, machines and inventory, you’d have some cash left over. That, in a nutshell, is the math behind a bear case on equities that says prices have outrun reality.

The concept is embodied in a measure known as the Q ratio developed by James Tobin, a Nobel Prize-winning economist at Yale University who died in 2002. According to Tobin’s Q, equities in the U.S. are valued about 10 percent above the cost of replacing their underlying assets — higher than any time other than the Internet bubble and the 1929 peak.

{ Bloomberg | Continue reading }