Kevin Lewis

July 26, 2020

The Intergenerational Impact of Terror: Did the 9/11 Tragedy Impact the Initial Human Capital of the Next Generation?
Ryan Brown
Demography, forthcoming


Given the unexpected nature of the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, a specific cohort of children were exogenously exposed to increased maternal psychological stress in utero. Rich administrative data and the precise timing of the event allow this study to uniquely provide insights into the health effects of exposure to maternal psychological stress across gestation. Results suggest that children exposed in utero were born significantly smaller and earlier than previous cohorts. The timing of the effect provides evidence that intrauterine growth is specifically restricted by first trimester exposure to stress; reductions in gestational age and increases in the likelihood of being born at low (<2,500 grams) or very low (<1,500 grams) birth weight are induced by increased maternal psychological stress mid-pregnancy. This study also documents a positively selected post-attack fertility response, which would bias an evaluation that includes cohorts conceived after September 11, 2001, in the control group.

Examining the Role of Genetic Risk and Longitudinal Transmission Processes Underlying Maternal Parenting and Psychopathology and Children’s ADHD Symptoms and Aggression: Utilizing the Advantages of a Prospective Adoption Design
Ruth Sellers et al.
Behavior Genetics, July 2020, Pages 247–262


Although genetic factors may contribute to initial liability for ADHD onset, there is growing evidence of the potential importance of the rearing environment on the developmental course of ADHD symptomatology. However, associations between family-level variables (maternal hostility, maternal depressive symptoms) and child behaviors (developmental course of ADHD and aggression) may be explained by genes that are shared by biologically related parents and children. Furthermore, ADHD symptoms and aggression commonly co-occur: it is important to consider both simultaneously to have a better understanding of processes underlying the developmental course of ADHD and aggression. To addresses these issues, we employed a longitudinal genetically sensitive parent–offspring adoption design. Analyses were conducted using Cohort I (n = 340) of the Early Growth and Development Study with cross-validation analyses conducted with Cohort II (n = 178). Adoptive mother hostility, but not depression, was associated with later child ADHD symptoms and aggression. Mothers and their adopted children were genetically unrelated, removing passive rGE as a possible explanation. Early child impulsivity/activation was associated with later ADHD symptoms and aggression. Child impulsivity/activation was also associated with maternal hostility, with some evidence for evocative gene-environment correlation processes on adoptive mother depressive symptoms. This study provides novel insights into family-based environmental influences on child ADHD and aggression symptoms, independent of shared parental genetic factors, implications of which are further explicated in the discussion.

Using an adoption design to test genetically based differences in risk for child behavior problems in response to home environmental influences
Robyn Cree et al.
Development and Psychopathology, forthcoming


Differential susceptibility theory (DST) posits that individuals differ in their developmental plasticity: some children are highly responsive to both environmental adversity and support, while others are less affected. According to this theory, “plasticity” genes that confer risk for psychopathology in adverse environments may promote superior functioning in supportive environments. We tested DST using a broad measure of child genetic liability (based on birth parent psychopathology), adoptive home environmental variables (e.g., marital warmth, parenting stress, and internalizing symptoms), and measures of child externalizing problems (n = 337) and social competence (n = 330) in 54-month-old adopted children from the Early Growth and Development Study. This adoption design is useful for examining DST because children are placed at birth or shortly thereafter with nongenetically related adoptive parents, naturally disentangling heritable and postnatal environmental effects. We conducted a series of multivariable regression analyses that included Gene × Environment interaction terms and found little evidence of DST; rather, interactions varied depending on the environmental factor of interest, in both significance and shape. Our mixed findings suggest further investigation of DST is warranted before tailoring screening and intervention recommendations to children based on their genetic liability or “sensitivity.”

Pharmacist-Prescribed And Over-The-Counter Hormonal Contraception In Los Angeles County Retail Pharmacies
Dima Mazen Qato et al.
Health Affairs, July 2020, Pages 1219-1228


Federal and state policies to increase access to birth control have included expanding access to preventive and emergency hormonal contraception at pharmacies for women and girls of all ages without a physician’s prescription. We conducted a “mystery shopper” telephone survey to quantify the impact of these policies in Los Angeles County, California. That county consistently has among the highest number of unintended pregnancies and teen births in the US, especially in low-income and minority neighborhoods. Between June and November 2017, three in four pharmacies offered over-the-counter emergency hormonal contraception, but only one in ten offered pharmacist-prescribed preventive hormonal contraception. Many of these pharmacies also imposed age restrictions when dispensing hormonal contraception, including in the neighborhoods at highest risk for unintended pregnancies and teen births, even though the Food and Drug Administration removed age restrictions for over-the-counter emergency hormonal contraception in 2013. In addition, many low-income, minority neighborhoods lacked pharmacies when the survey was performed. Policies aimed solely at expanding pharmacy access to birth control might not be sufficient to address disparities in contraceptive use.

Property tax limits and female labor supply: Evidence from the housing boom and bust
Shimeng Liu & Xi Yang
Journal of Housing Economics, forthcoming


This paper investigates whether and how property tax limits impact female labor supply during the housing boom and bust. Theory predicts that property tax limits increase non-labor income during the housing boom and decrease non-labor income during the bust periods, leading to opposite effects on labor supply during the boom and bust periods. Exploiting exogenous variation of housing market conditions in the housing boom and bust and geographic changes of property tax limits in the cross-state Combined Statistical Areas, we test the theory and find that property tax limits reduced female labor force participation by 0.7 to 1.4 percentage points during the housing boom (2005–2006) as predicted. In contrast, the impact of property tax limits on female labor force participation during the housing bust (2008–2009) is always positive but not statistically significant in most specifications. These results are consistent with our model and provide new evidence of housing wealth effects in the labor market.

Changing parental depression and sensitivity: Randomized clinical trial of ABC's effectiveness in the community
Laura Perrone et al.
Development and Psychopathology, forthcoming


Attachment and Biobehavioral Catch-up (ABC) demonstrates efficacy in improving parent and child outcomes, with preliminary evidence for effectiveness in community settings. The objective of this study was to assess the effectiveness of a community-based ABC implementation in improving parent outcomes as well as to examine potential mediators and moderators of intervention effectiveness. Two hundred parents and their 5- to 21-month-old infants recruited from an urban community were randomly assigned to receive ABC or be placed on a waitlist. The majority of participants had a minority racial or ethnic background. Before intervention, parents completed questionnaires about sociodemographic risk and adverse childhood experiences. At both baseline and follow-up, parents reported depression symptoms and were video-recorded interacting with their infant, which was coded for sensitivity. The ABC intervention predicted significant increases in parental sensitivity and, among parents who completed the intervention, significant decreases in depression symptoms. Changes in parental depression symptoms did not significantly mediate the intervention effects on sensitivity. Risk variables did not moderate the intervention effects. The results indicate that ABC shows promise for improving parent outcomes in community settings, supporting dissemination.


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