Spewing forth

Kevin Lewis

July 16, 2019

Intergroup contact, social dominance, and environmental concern: A test of the cognitive-liberalization hypothesis
Rose Meleady et al.
Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, forthcoming

Intergroup contact is among the most effective ways to improve intergroup attitudes. Although it is now beyond any doubt that contact can reduce prejudice, in this article we provide evidence that its benefits can extend beyond intergroup relations — a process referred to as cognitive liberalization (Hodson, Crisp, Meleady, & Earle, 2018). We focus specifically on the impact of intergroup contact on environmentally relevant attitudes and behavior. Recent studies suggest that support for an inequality-based ideology (social dominance orientation [SDO]) can predict both intergroup attitudes and broader environmental conduct. Individuals higher in SDO are more willing to exploit the environment in unsustainable ways because doing so aids the production and maintenance of hierarchical social structures. In 4 studies conducted with British adults, we show that by promoting less hierarchical and more egalitarian viewpoints (reduced SDO), intergroup contact encourages more environmentally responsible attitudes and behavior. Both cross-sectional and longitudinal data support this model. Effects are more strongly explained by reductions in an antiegalitarian motive than a dominance motive. We discuss how these findings help define an expanded vision for intergroup contact theory that moves beyond traditional conflict-related outcomes.

The Impact of Car Pollution on Infant and Child Health: Evidence from Emissions Cheating
Diane Alexander & Hannes Schwandt
Federal Reserve Working Paper, June 2019

Car exhaust is a major source of air pollution, but little is known about its impacts on population health. We exploit the dispersion of emissions-cheating diesel cars - which secretly polluted up to 150 times as much as gasoline cars - across the United States from 2008-2015 as a natural experiment to measure the health impact of car pollution. Using the universe of vehicle registrations, we demonstrate that a 10 percent cheating-induced increase in car exhaust increases rates of low birth weight and acute asthma attacks among children by 1.9 and 8.0 percent, respectively. These health impacts occur at all pollution levels and across the entire socioeconomic spectrum.

Green Bonds: Effectiveness and Implications for Public Policy
Caroline Flammer
NBER Working Paper, June 2019

This paper studies green bonds, a relatively new instrument in sustainable finance. I first describe the market for green bonds and characterize the “green bond boom” witnessed in recent years. Second, using firm-level data on green bonds issued by public companies, I examine companies’ financial and environmental performance following the issuance of green bonds. I find that the stock market responds positively to the announcement of green bond issues. Moreover, I document a significant increase in environmental performance, suggesting that green bonds are effective in improving companies’ environmental footprint. These findings are only significant for green bonds that are certified by independent third parties, suggesting that certification is an important governance mechanism in the green bond market. I conclude by discussing potential implications for public policy.

Greens or Space Invaders: Prominent Utopian Themes and Effects on Social Change Motivation
Julian Fernando et al.
European Journal of Social Psychology, forthcoming

One way in which individuals can participate in action to change the society they live in is through the pursuit of an ideal society or ‘utopia’; however, the content of that utopia is a likely determinant of its motivational impact. Here we examined two predominant prototypes of utopia derived from previous research and theory ‐ the Green and Sci‐Fi utopias. When participants were primed with either of these utopias, the Green utopia was perceived to entail a range of other positive characteristics (e.g. warmth, positive emotions) and ‐ provided it was positively evaluated – tended to elicit both motivation and behaviour for social change. In contrast, the Sci‐Fi utopia was associated with low motivation, even when it was positively evaluated. Furthermore, the Green utopia was shown to elicit greater perceptions of participative efficacy, which in turn predicted the increase in social change motivation.

Greenspace and Infant Mortality in Philadelphia, PA
Leah Schinasi et al.
Journal of Urban Health, June 2019, Pages 497–506

Despite mounting evidence that urban greenspace protects against mortality in adults, few studies have explored the relationship between greenspace and death among infants. Here, we describe results from an analysis of associations between greenness and infant mortality in Philadelphia, PA. We used images of the normalized difference vegetation index (NDVI), derived from processed satellite data, to estimate greenness density in each census tract. We linked these data with census tract level counts of total infant mortality cases (n = 963) and births (n = 113,610) in years 2010–2014, and used Bayesian spatial areal unit, conditional autoregressive models to estimate associations between greenness and infant mortality. The models included a set of random effects to account for spatial autocorrelation between neighboring census tracts. Infant mortality counts were modeled using a Poisson distribution, and the logarithm of total births in each census tract was specified as the offset term. The following variables were included as potential confounders and effect modifiers: percentage non-Hispanic black, percentage living below the poverty line, an indicator of housing quality, and population density. In adjusted models, the rate of infant mortality was 27% higher in less green compared to more green tracts (95% CI 1.02–1.59). These results contribute further evidence that greenspace may be a health promoting environmental asset.

Third-Party Certification and the Effectiveness of Voluntary Pollution Abatement Programs: Evidence from Responsible Care
Martina Vidovic, Michael Delgado & Neha Khanna
Economic Inquiry, forthcoming

We analyze whether third‐party certification has been successful in improving the performance of voluntary pollution abatement in the Responsible Care (RC) program which made certification mandatory from 2005 onward. We use facility‐level panel data from 821 plants between 1996 and 2010, and exploit the change in the program requirements to estimate the causal impact of third‐party certification on participating facility emissions compared to non‐RC plants in the U.S. chemical industry. We address endogenous selection into RC via instrumental variables, and explore heterogeneity in the treatment effect. We find that, on average, there is no statistically discernible effect of third‐party certification on facility emissions, and that this result is robust to a variety of models that correspond to different assumptions related to identification.

Do long-haul truckers undervalue future fuel savings?
Jacob Adenbaum, Adam Copeland & John Stevens
Energy Economics, June 2019, Pages 1148-1166

The U.S. federal government enacted fuel efficiency standards for medium and heavy trucks for the first time in September 2011. Rationales for using this policy tool typically depend upon frictions existing in the marketplace or consumers being myopic, such that vehicle purchasers undervalue the future fuel savings from increased fuel efficiency. We measure by how much long-haul truck owners undervalue future fuel savings by employing recent advances to the classic hedonic approach to estimate the distribution of willingness-to-pay for fuel efficiency. We find significant heterogeneity in truck owners’ willingness to pay for fuel efficiency, with the elasticity of fuel efficiency to price ranging from 0.51 at the 10th percentile to 1.33 at the 90th percentile, and an average of 0.91. Combining these results with estimates of future fuel savings from increases in fuel efficiency, we find that long-haul truck owners’ willingness-to-pay for a 1 percent increase in fuel efficiency is, on average, just 29.8 percent of the expected future fuel savings. These results suggest that introducing fuel efficiency standards for heavy trucks might be an effective policy tool to raise medium and heavy trucks’ fuel economy.

Anthropogenic remediation of heavy metals selects against natural microbial remediation
Elze Hesse et al.
Proceedings of the Royal Society: Biological Sciences, June 2019

In an era of unprecedented environmental change, there have been increasing ecological and global public health concerns associated with exposure to anthropogenic pollutants. While there is a pressing need to remediate polluted ecosystems, human intervention might unwittingly oppose selection for natural detoxification, which is primarily carried out by microbes. We test this possibility in the context of a ubiquitous chemical remediation strategy aimed at targeting metal pollution: the addition of lime-containing materials. Here, we show that raising pH by liming decreased the availability of toxic metals in acidic mine-degraded soils, but as a consequence selected against microbial taxa that naturally remediate soil through the production of metal-binding siderophores. Our results therefore highlight the crucial need to consider the eco-evolutionary consequences of human environmental strategies on microbial ecosystem services and other traits.

Environmental regulation as a double-edged sword for housing markets: Evidence from the NOx Budget Trading Program
Sumit Agarwal, Yongheng Deng & Teng Li
Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, July 2019, Pages 286-309

We investigate the effects of environmental regulations on housing markets using a quasi-experimental setting—the NOx Budget Trading Program (NBP). Hedonic theory predicts that house prices should rise as pollution levels decrease. However, environmental regulations may also affect labor markets, and thus housing demand. Employing a difference-in-differences framework, we find that house prices shifted up in the regulated areas with low manufacturing intensity, whereas in the areas with high manufacturing intensity, housing markets were weakened. We also find that in high-manufacturing-intensity areas, loan application volume declined, rejection rate augmented, and the probability of loan default increased.

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