Sunday, April 19, 2009

The Power of Television

Economists have shown that the introduction of cable television can be a simple yet influential way of improving a woman’s standing in rural India. Here is the abstract:

"Cable and satellite television have grown rapidly throughout the developing world. The availability of cable and satellite television exposes viewers to new information about the outside world, which may affect individual attitudes and behaviors. This paper explores the effect of the introduction of cable television on gender attitudes in rural India. Using a three-year individual-level panel dataset, we find that the introduction of cable television is associated with improvements in women's status. We find significant increases in reported autonomy, decreases in the reported acceptability of beating and decreases in reported son preference. We also find increases in female school enrollment and decreases in fertility (primarily via increased birth spacing). The effects are large, equivalent in some cases to about five years of education in the cross section, and move gender attitudes of individuals in rural areas much closer to those in urban areas. We argue that the results are not driven by pre-existing differential trends. These results have important policy implications, as India and other countries attempt to decrease bias against women. "

Source: "The Power of TV: Cable Television and Women’s Status in India." Robert Jensen and Emily Oster. Forthcoming in the Quarterly Journal of Economics.

Monday, April 6, 2009

"Ontological" Constraint -- IV

This is the so-called "Choice blindness" constraint. Here is an illustration.

"Ontological" Constraint -- III

...more formally known as "Inattentional blindness". Below is a demo.

"Ontological" Constraint -- II

...called by psychologists "change blindness".

"Ontological" Constraint -- I

Michael Jensen, the co-pioneer of the well known agency theory in organizational economics and the founder of SSRN visited Wash U. and presented his latest research project on "An Ontological Perspective of Being a Leader and the Effective Exercise of Leadership". The talk certainly contains many insightful points that are neither fully explored by economists nor by psychologists, sociologists or management scholars.

Several "ontological constraints" he pointed out during the talk are quite illuminating. Here is one example, namely the "feeling of knowing", which is original put forward in a well-crafted book "On Being Certain: Believing You Are Right Even When You're Not" by Robert Burton.

Read the following excerpt at normal speed. Don't skim, give halfway through, or skip to the explanation. After reading, ask yourself how you feel about the paragraph. Does it make any sense? Then proceed to read the clarifying word, reread the paragraph. You will probably notice some shifts in your mental mind.

A newspaper is better than a magazine. A seashore is better than the street. At first it is better to run than to walk. You may have to try several times. It takes some skill, but it is easy to learn. Even young children can enjoy it. Once successful, complications are minimal. Birds seldom get too close. Rain, however, soaks in very fast. Too many people doing the same thing can also cause problems. One needs lots of room. If there are no complications, it can be very peaceful. A rock will serve as an anchor. If things break loose from it, however, you will not get a second chance.

Is this paragraph comprehensible or meaningless? Feel your mind sort through potential explanations. Now watch what happens with the presentation of a single word: kite. As you reread the paragraph, feel the prior discomfort of something amiss shifting to a pleasing sense of rightness.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Economic Sociology: A Reading List

...from economic sociology_the european website.

The list is divided into 18 sections, each of which covers a substantial field of research. Books dominate the reading list, but shorter articles summarizing the main arguments of these books can usually be found. Articles are included in cases where books covering the same issues are not available. In the readers some of the texts mentioned here are reproduced. The readers provide a very good overview of this field, and it is also in these one can find reprints of many of the most important, classical as well as contemporary, contributions in economic sociology.