The ripple effects of large-scale job losses linger for years and can keep adolescents from attending college later in life, according to new research carrying significant ramifications for policy makers, college recruiters and counselors.
Poor middle school and high school students who live through major job losses in their region attend college at significantly lower rates when they are 19 years old, according to new research published in the journal Science. A 7% state job loss when a student is an adolescent is tied to a 20% decline in likelihood that the poorest young people will attend college.
Local job losses hurt adolescent mental health, researchers found. Job losses also cut academic performance. The negative impacts are not limited to children from families where parents lost jobs – they extend to those who witness their friends, neighbors and others in the community being affected by layoffs.
Researchers argue that large-scale job losses are not simply economic events touching directly affected families. They are community-level traumas, said Elizabeth O. Ananat, an associate professor of public policy studies and economics at Duke University who is one of the lead authors of the paper appearing in Science.
“Worse mental health and worse test scores, they are all going to be blows to you that knock you off the path,” Ananat said. “That was a difficult path to begin with.”
In the economic theory, a student may have watched their father lose his job when a mine closed. Or they watched a friend’s mother be laid off when the local factory downsized. Those students should then be drawn to a college education because of the promise of larger financial returns and more stable employment in the newly developing knowledge economy.
In other words, economic theory has tended to focus on the idea that a shrinking pool of blue-collar jobs increases the relative return on investment of a college education. But it’s not working that way in the real world.
“Economists tend to think about it as a change in relative prices – the return changes,” Ananat said. “They miss the fact that it’s an emotional blow, like another kind of community trauma would be.”
Found this interesting article on Huffington Post about how brain scans can predict political affiliation. This does make sense; my experience is that after interacting with someone only for a brief period of time, I can accurately guess which way they lean. Not always, of course — and some turn out to be centrists or libertarians, who wouldn't necessarily fit into the left/right model. But it's an intriguing scientific approach to the madness.
Comparing the Democrat and Republican participants turned up differences in two brain regions: the right amygdala and the left posterior insula. Republicans showed more activity than Democrats in the right amygdala when making a risky decision. This brain region is important for processing fear, risk and reward.
Meanwhile, Democrats showed more activity in the left posterior insula, a portion of the brain responsible for processing emotions, particularly visceral emotional cues from the body. The particular region of the insula that showed the heightened activity has also been linked with "theory of mind," or the ability to understand what others might be thinking.
While their brain activity differed, the two groups' behaviors were identical, the study found.
Schreiber and his colleagues can't say whether the functional brain differences nudge people toward a particular ideology or not. The brain changes based on how it is used, so it is possible that acting in a partisan way prompts the differences.
The functional differences did mesh well with political beliefs, however. The researchers were able to predict a person's political party by looking at their brain function 82.9 percent of the time. In comparison, knowing the structure of these regions predicts party correctly 71 percent of the time, and knowing someone's parents' political affiliation can tell you theirs 69.5 percent of the time, the researchers wrote.
I found out something today about pet pampering that has my tongue wagging (sorry, I couldn’t resist).
It seems that the tokens of affection I present to my pets – extra comfy beds, entertaining toys, trips to the groomer and tasty treats – pale in comparison to the way others dote on their animals.
According to the American Pet Products Association (APPA), U.S. pet owners will spend an estimated $50.84 billion in 2011. What in the world are people spending so much money on?
Food expenses top the list at $19.53 billion. Medical care also ranks high. But, pet owners also are dishing out dollars for luxuries such as massages, manicures, designer duds, travel gear and spa days. Hey, I’ve never had a spa day! Not unless you count the time I had my eyebrows arched and for one terrifying moment thought half of one was missing.
Don’t fret, my pet (just bear with me), it’s not all give and take. The APPA cites several health benefits of pet ownership. Among them:
Pets help to lower blood pressure. A recent study at the State University of New York at Buffalo found that people with hypertension who adopted a cat or dog had lower blood pressure readings in stressful situations than those who did not own a pet.
Pets help to prevent heart disease. Because pets provide people with faithful companionship, research shows they may also provide their owners with greater psychological stability, thus a measure of protection from heart disease.
Pets help to fight depression. Pets help fight depression and loneliness, promoting an interest in life. When seniors face adversity or trauma, affection from pets takes on great meaning. Their bonding behavior can foster a sense of security.
An intriguing article by biologist Christoph Randler from the Harvard Business Review contends that morning people are actually most successful in the business world, due to their proclivity to be more proactive. Honestly, it makes a lot of sense.
And if you’re not a morning person (I’m not either), just please don’t be like that guy in a recent McDonald’s commercial who refused to speak to anyone – regardless of the critical nature of their inquiry – until he had his coffee. Oh, you’re so precious and delicate that no mere mortal is allowed to speak to you until you’ve had some caffeine? Wish somebody in that ad would’ve just said, "Great, here’s some scalding Folgers in your face. You awake now, tough guy?"
Anyway, here’s an excerpt:
If I wanted to train myself to be a morning person, how would I do it?
The fascinating thing about our findings is that duration of sleep has nothing to do with the increased proactivity and morning alertness that we see among morning people. But while the number of hours of sleep doesn’t matter, the timing of sleep does. So you could try shifting your daily cycle by going to bed earlier. Another thing you could do is go outside into the daylight early in the morning. The daylight resets your circadian clock and helps shift you toward morningness. If you go outside only in the evening, you tend to shift toward eveningness.
If I taught myself to be a morning person, would I become more proactive?
I don’t know. One theory is that morning people are more proactive because getting up early gives them more time to prepare for the day. If that’s true, then increasing your morningness might improve your proactivity. But there’s evidence that something inherent may determine proactivity. Studies show that conscientiousness is also associated with morningness. Perhaps proactivity grows out of conscientiousness.