Teen moms

Using data from a nationally representative survey of teens who were re-interviewed as young adults, and using the occurrence of miscarriages as natural experiments, an economist found that becoming a teen mom impaired education and earnings trajectories only among white teens and/or those living in affluent counties. In fact, there was some evidence that these trajectories improved among moms of lower socioeconomic status. The economist concludes that “policies to reduce teen pregnancy — to improve the outcomes for the most disadvantaged — may not help the targeted population” — that is, there’s little point in trying to reduce teen pregnancy.


Gorry, D., “Heterogeneous Consequences of Teenage Childbearing,” Demography (December 2019).

The court of employer opinion

Hiring managers were randomly assigned to evaluate either a job applicant who had posted on Facebook that he had a prior cocaine addiction and subsequent sobriety, or an applicant with the same post and an arrest (but no conviction) for felony cocaine possession, or an applicant with the same post and a conviction for felony cocaine possession. Name, education, and work history were the same. While the Facebook post alone resulted in lower evaluations of the applicant compared to no drug history, evaluations were the worst in the case of arrest and especially conviction, even controlling for predictions about future drug use.

Sugie, N. et al., “Employer Aversion to Criminal Records: An Experimental Study of Mechanisms,” Criminology (forthcoming).

Coming out after Trump

Europeans were more willing to express racism in face-to-face interviews conducted right after, compared to right before, Trump’s election. Stated attitudes about redistribution of wealth, environmental protection, and gay rights were not affected. An opposite effect was found in interviews around the time Obama became president.

Giani, M. & Méon, P.-G., “Global Racist Contagion Following Donald Trump's Election,” British Journal of Political Science (forthcoming).


Confronting expectations

Officers from various police departments were randomly assigned to several different scenarios in a use-of-force training simulator. Officers heard audio from dispatch that a caller saw someone suspicious casing a home. Some officers were additionally told that the caller thought the suspect was carrying a gun, while other officers were told that the caller thought the suspect was talking on a cellphone. Video at the scene then depicted the suspect pulling out and pointing a cellphone at the officer. Only six percent of the officers shot the suspect if dispatch had reported the cellphone; 28 percent shot the suspect if dispatch had reported neither a cellphone nor a gun; and 62 percent shot the suspect if dispatch had reported a gun.

Taylor, P., “Dispatch Priming and the Police Decision to Use Deadly Force,” Police Quarterly (forthcoming).

Passed down

Comparing German municipalities with different inheritance customs two centuries ago — splitting equally among siblings or giving everything to the firstborn son — a study found that equitable inheritance customs from the past are associated with electing more women to municipal councils in the present and having fewer aristocrats in local Rotary clubs. These municipalities also had less land inequality a century ago and were more likely to vote for communists during the Weimar Republic. On the other hand, present-day income inequality is higher in these municipalities, suggesting that meritocracy has replaced aristocracy.

Hager, A. & Hilbig, H., “Do Inheritance Customs Affect Political and Social Inequality?” American Journal of Political Science (October 2019).