High Skill Immigrants Increase Productivity and Innovation

Via National Bureau of Economic Research Digest:

Whether and how high-skill immigrants affect productivity and innovation in their adopted country is a subject of long-running debate. In German-Jewish Émigrés and U.S. Invention (NBER Working Paper No. 19962), Petra Moser, Alessandra Voena, and Fabian Waldinger find that the German Jewish chemists who fled Nazi Germany and Austria dramatically boosted America’s scientific prowess. Patenting in the United States rose 31 percent after 1933 in the fields the émigré chemists were working in, and it stayed at elevated levels into the 1950s.

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Study: Aggravated Assault Rises when Right-to-Carry Laws are Adopted

Via Emily Badger at Wonkblog

more recent paper (“the best study on the topic” by Webster’s account), written by Stanford’s Abhay Aneja and John J. Donohue and Hopkins’ Alexandria Zhang, goes one step further. It methodically picks apart the existing literature — including Lott’s — and reaches a dramatically different conclusion:

“Overall, the most consistent, albeit not uniform, finding to emerge from both the state and the county panel data models conducted over the entire 1977–2006 period with and without state trends and using three different models is that aggravated assault rises when [right-to-carry] laws are adopted.”

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Solar Power Soars to New Heights

Via PV Tech:

“In the first six months of 2014, solar has represented almost a third of new electricity generation capacity additions in the US, more than doubling its performance in the same period of 2013, according to US government statistics.”

“According to the latest monthly Energy Infrastructure Update issued by the Federal Energy Regulation Commission (FERC), new energy generation installations in the US were dominated in June by natural gas and solar, with only about half as much wind added as solar.”

“According to the report for June, around 40MW of solar was installed in June, behind 63MW of natural gas generation capacity added but ahead of wind power, with 21MW.”

“From a total of 8,496MW installed in all forms of generation in January to June of 2013, solar represented about 14% of new generation capacity, while in January to June this year, solar made up 32% of newly added capacity.”

“A US government report last week predicted that by 2040 solar would be second only to natural gas in its importance to the US energy mix.”

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Youth Who Have Used E-Cigarettes Report Greater Intent to Try Regular Cigarettes

Via Newswise

“A recent study by a Georgia State University scientist and her colleagues with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has found that youth who have never even touched a regular tobacco cigarette — but have ever used e-cigarettes — are more likely to report that they may try conventional cigarettes.” Continue reading–>

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Males: Don’t Put Your Phone in Your Pocket

Highlights of a Study Addressing Mobile Phone Exposure to Sperm Quality

  • The potential role of mobile phone exposure on sperm quality needs to be clarified.
  • A systematic review was done followed by a meta-analysis using random effects models.
  • Mobile phone exposure was associated with reduced sperm motility and viability. [Emphasis mine]
  • No effect on concentration was apparent.


Mobile phones are owned by most of the adult population worldwide. Radio-frequency electromagnetic radiation (RF-EMR) from these devices could potentially affect sperm development and function. Around 14% of couples in high- and middle-income countries have difficulty conceiving, and there are unexplained declines in semen quality reported in several countries. Given the ubiquity of mobile phone use, the potential role of this environmental exposure needs to be clarified. A systematic review was therefore conducted, followed by meta-analysis using random effects models, to determine whether exposure to RF-EMR emitted from mobile phones affects human sperm quality. Participants were from fertility clinic and research centres. The sperm quality outcome measures were motility, viability and concentration, which are the parameters most frequently used in clinical settings to assess fertility.

We used ten studies in the meta-analysis, including 1492 samples. Exposure to mobile phones was associated with reduced sperm motility (mean difference − 8.1% (95% CI − 13.1, − 3.2)) and viability (mean difference − 9.1% (95% CI − 18.4, 0.2)), but the effects on concentration were more equivocal. The results were consistent across experimental in vitro and observational in vivo studies. We conclude that pooled results from in vitro and in vivostudies suggest that mobile phone exposure negatively affects sperm quality. Further study is required to determine the full clinical implications for both sub-fertile men and the general population.


Adams, Jessica A., et al. (2014).  Effect of mobile telephones on sperm quality: A systematic review and meta-analysisEnvironment International. Vol.70:106–112, doi:10.1016/j.envint.2014.04.015

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Fact or Fiction: Under Obama the Border has become More Porous

Via Maggie Mahar

Fiction: On Obama’s watch, the border has become more and more porous. “Hordes of illegal aliens” are crossing into the U.S.

Fact: It is true that over the past year, more minors have been making their way across the border. But since Obama became president the total number of people crossing the Southwestern border illegally has fallen sharply. As the Economist observes it is “harder to get in than before”: Continue reading–>

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Median Wealth in the U. S. is Down 20% from 1984

Via Real-World Economics Review Blog

A NYT article reported on a study from Russell Sage reporting that median household wealth 36 percent lower in 2013 than 2003. While this is disturbing, an even more striking finding from the study is that median wealth is down by around 20 percent from 1984. Continue reading–>

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Upward Mobility Eludes Many Children in the Southeast

There are few goals in American society which exceed the goal of upward mobility. A study by the Equality of Opportunity Project examined absolute upward mobility in nearly counties in the U.S.

Absolute mobility measures where a typical child who starts out in a family in the bottom half of the income distribution will end up in the income distribution among people his or her age when he or she grows up.

The following map depicts the outcomes, where darker counties have less mobility, and lighter counties have more:

Absolute Mobility in the US

Notice the lower economic mobility associated in Southeastern parts of the U.S. Children from families in the lower socio-economic groups of the income distribution in the Southeast are, on average, staying in those lower socio-economic status groups. 


Kiersz, Andy. (2014). The American Dream Is a Myth In These Parts of America. Equality of Opportunity Project.

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Dual Enrolled Students are More Likely than Their Peers to Finish High School, Enter College and Complete a Degree

Research shows that students who participate in dual enrollment are more likely than their peers to finish high school, enter college and complete a degree. This means dual enrollment can greatly benefit students in rural areas, which report lower college-going and postsecondary attainment rates than other locales.


Michael Andrew Koicich, Texas Tech University, The Effects of Rurality on College Access and Choice, presented at AERA 2014 Annual Meeting, April 4, 2014; National Student Clearinghouse Research Center, National College Progression Rates: For high schools participating in the National Student Clearinghouse Student Tracker Service,
October 15, 2013; Soo-yong Byun, Judith L. Meece and Matthew J. Irvin, Rural-Nonrural Disparities in Postsecondary Educational Attainment Revisited, American Educational Research Journal, June 2012, Vol. 49, No. 3, pp. 412-437; Southern Rural Development Center, “College degree gap widens between cities and rural
America,” n.d.; National Center on Education Statistics, Status of Education in Rural America, “Indicator 2.7, College enrollment rates,” June 2007.

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Evidence-Based Advantages of Career-Technical Education Dual Enrollment Programs

An Education Commission of the States report identifies the evidence-based advantages of CTE dual enrollment:

Research makes it clear that CTE dual enrollment courses improve outcomes for traditionally underserved students. Specifically, studies find that CTE dual enrollment students are more likely to:

Earn a high school diploma. One study indicates graduation rates among CTE dual enrollment students were higher than their non-dually-enrolled peers even after controlling for test scores.

Enroll in a bachelor’s degree program. One study found that CTE dual enrollment course completers in Florida were slightly more likely than all dually-enrolled students to enroll in a four-year institution – 7.7 percent for all dually-enrolled students versus 8.6 percent for CTE dually-enrolled students.

Enroll in college full-time. Again, one study found CTE dual enrollment students slightly more likely than dual enrollment students generally to enroll in college full-time. This is important given the body of research suggesting that enrolling in college full-time increases a student’s chances of college completion


Zinth, J. D. (2014).Dual Enrollment: A Strategy for College Completion and Workforce Investment. Education Commission of the States.
Get the report here.

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