Spring 2014

Titles will be announced shortly. All talks begin at 12:45 p.m. and will be held in room 4-E4-SR03, unless otherwise noted (changes make take place throughout the semester).


February 24 **Room 4-E4-SR03

Greg Clark, University of California Davis

“Surnames and the History of Social Mobility”

Using surname distributions it is possible to infer social mobility rates over multiple generations, and also in pre-industrial society.  These social mobility rates will be shown to be systematically lower than those estimated by conventional methods.  They are also remarkably constant across different social regimes.  It is argued that this is because the surname evidence measures a more fundamental type of social mobility than is conventionally estimated.  The character of this social mobility across generations is compatible with biology as opposed to family cultures or environment being the fundamental determinants of social status.


March 10 **Room 5-E4-SR04

Paolo Campana, University of Oxford

“Cooperation in Criminal Organizations: Kinship and Violence as Credible Commitments”

The paper argues that kinship ties and sharing information on violent acts can be interpreted as forms of ‘hostage-taking’ likely to increase cooperation among cooffenders. The paper tests this hypothesis among members of two criminal groups, a Camorra clan based just outside Naples, and a Russian Mafia group that moved to Rome in the mid-1990s. The data consist of the transcripts of phone intercepts conducted on both groups by the Italian police over several months. After turning the data into a series of network matrices, we use Multivariate Quadratic Assignment Procedure to test the hypothesis. We conclude that the likelihood of cooperation is higher among members who have shared information about violent acts. Violence has a stronger effect than kinship in predicting tie formation and thus cooperation. When non-kinship-based mechanisms fostering cooperation exist, criminal groups are likely to resort to them.


March 31 **Room 4-E4-SR03

Mark Luy, Vienna Institute of Demography

“Causes of gender differences in life expectancy: Smoking versus other non-biological factors”

Tobacco consumption is seen as the predominant driver of both the trend and the extent of gender differences in life expectancy. We compare the impact of smoking to the effect of other non-biological factors for 53 industrialized countries from 1955 to 2009 to assess its significance among the causes that can be influenced by direct or indirect interference. We find that the trend of the gender gap in life expectancy can indeed be attributed to smoking in most western populations. In most Eastern European populations, however, other non-biological factors have a stronger impact than smoking. With regard to the overall extent of male excess mortality, smoking is the main driver only in the minority of the studied populations. Thus, over-generalised statements which might suggest that smoking is the main force behind the gender gap in all populations can be misleading. While the impact of smoking to the gender gap in life expectancy declines in all studied populations, the contribution of other non-biological factors is in most cases higher at the end than at the beginning of the observation period. This demonstrates that, regardless of the prevailing effect of smoking, many populations have still remarkable potentials to further narrow their gender gaps in life expectancy.


April 28 **Room 3-E4-SR03

Edmund Cannon, University of Bristol

"English wheat market integration 1828-42: The role of market size and finance in interpreting the 'price points'"

We analyse market integration using weekly data on up to 150 markets in England and Wales.  Apart from helping us understand this important market during the industrial revolution, these data help us to address methodological issues in measuring market efficiency. Using information on quantities traded we show that price behaviour varies substantially with market size.  A large part of the variation in prices in small markets appears to be idiosyncratic price movements and thus it is impossible to identify fully market efficiency.  We also follow recent research that estimates threshold error-correction models to identify the "price points" and show that the estimated thresholds depend on factors other than possible transport and arbitrage costs: in which case they do not fully represent price points but merely other non-linearities in the adjustment mechanism.


May 5 **Room 3-E4-SR03

Scott Gates, Peace Research Institute Oslo

"Modeling Multi-Party Contests: From Intimate Alliances to Free-for-Alls"

Civil wars often involve multiple parties, and there is significant variation in the way that these parties interact with one another — whether allying or fighting. Using a contest success function approach, this paper models how the number of combatants in civil war, whether these groups all fight each other or rebels ally against the government, and how powerful the government is relative to the rebels affect the intensity of conflict. The model is used to generate several hypotheses about conflict severity, which are tested using data from all internal armed conflicts from 1989 to 2012. The OLS regression estimation produces results that support our theoretical conjectures. Increasing the number of parties to a conflict is associated with higher conflict severity. Government-Rebel troop ratios are also associated with greater battle-deaths, such that as rebel resource endowments rise relative to the government’s, conflict severity increases. We also find that these two factors exhibit an interaction effect — as the number of combatants increases, the effect of the troop ratio on conflict intensity diminishes. Our analysis has important implications for under standing contemporary civil wars involving many actors, such as in Syria or Somalia.


May 12 ** This is the annual lecture honoring Alberto Dondena

Ron Rindfuss, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill

"Social Change and Social Networks: Family & Fertility Change in Japan"

How might small-scale social interactions lead to large-scale shifts in values and behavior? Being exposed to people who are engaged in innovative/deviant behavior almost certainly leads to an evaluation (consciously or unconsciously) of that behavior. A positive evaluation might lead to holding less traditional attitudes towards that behavior, and a negative evaluation to reinforcement of traditional values and behavior.  Positive evaluations by a sufficient proportion of the population could lead to a tipping point in both macro-level values and actual behavior. Japan, unlike most Western countries, has experienced limited movement in several components of the second demographic transition, including non-marital fertility, use of childcare centers, and, somewhat less so, cohabitation.  Yet Japan has experienced many of the structural changes found in Western societies that are related to the second demographic transition, including increased education levels with the increases more marked for women than men, rise of the service economy, urbanization, shift to work settings not conducive to caring for young children, and out-sourcing of labor-intensive manufacturing jobs to low-wage countries.  Using longitudinal and cross-sectional data that include information on knowing relatives, friends and co-workers who have engaged in non-traditional fertility and family behavior, it is shown that many Japanese know family innovators and that this knowledge is patterned by standard demographic variables.  Further, there is a positive correlation between knowing an innovator and having a less traditional attitude toward that behavior. Longitudinally, new-knowers move towards less traditional attitudes and unknowers move towards more traditional attitudes.


May 19 **Room 4-E4-SR03

Cecilia Tomassini, Universita degli Studi del Molise

 "Family exchanges in later life: The perspective of the demographer"














Last updated 23 September 2014 - 11:27:00