PSTC Flash Session


Mencoff Hall 205 

The following PSTC predoctoral trainees will offer short presentations on their works-in-progress or completed research:

Yingyue Jiang (Sociology): How does past birth experience influence people’s child gender preference: A study based on Chinese General Social Survey (CGSS) 2018

Abstract: China still has one of the most serious gender imbalances among newborns in the world. This imbalance historically has resulted from the country’s traditional preference for sons to continue their family lineage. Previous research has mainly concentrated on three perspectives in explaining child gender preference: individual socioeconomic characteristics, the economic and cultural utility of sons, and gender role ideology and patriarchal beliefs. However, little to no research focuses on the effect of personal birth experience, particularly the gender of children already in the family. This study multinomial logit model to determine whether birth experience has a significant effect on child gender reference using data from the Chinese General Social Survey 2018. The results suggest that people’s past birth experience does have an impact on their child gender preference, and they tend to want to continue their past childrearing experience. People who do not have children or already have both sons and daughters tend to have random preference for their future children’s gender.

Aditi Priya (Sociology)

Matthew Schaelling (Economics): Content Relatability and Racial Standardized Test Gaps: Evidence from Texas (authors Steven Lee and Matthew Schaelling)

Abstract: One goal of standardized tests is to measure aptitude across heterogeneous students with minimal bias. Could differential relatability of students to test content be contributing to bias and widening observed racial test gaps? We study this question empirically using item-level data from high-stakes reading comprehension exams in Texas. We use detailed time-use data and natural language processing techniques to build race/ethnicity-specific measures of content relatability to passages in the exams. Relying on quasi-random variation in topics across passages, we find that a one standard deviation increase in the presence of relatable text in a passage predicts a 1.7pp increase in student performance—equivalent to a 0.07 standard deviation change. White students have higher average relatability than non-white students, of which a third can be attributed to the selection of topics in passages. Our results suggest that equalizing the content of passages in these standardized tests could reduce the Black-white test score gap by 4% and Hispanic-white test score gap by 3%.

Marcela Mello Silva (Economics): Religious Media, Conversion, and the Socioeconomic Consequences: The Rise of Pentecostals in Brazil 

Abstract: We study the socioeconomic consequences of adherence to the Pentecostal movement in Brazil, using exposure to a church-aliated TV channel as a source of quasi-random variation in religiosity. Our empirical strategy exploits the placement of transmitters prior to the channel becoming religiously aliated. Results show that exposure to this TV channel increased the number of Pentecostals in Brazil (30% increase compared to baseline) ten years after change of ownership. Consistent with the church’s prescriptions, municipalities exposed to this TV channel had higher fertility rates, lower female labor force participation, lower schooling for young women, and more votes for Pentecostal candidates. We find no effects on schooling for boys. Results persist in following 20 years. In an event-study framework, we exploit the expansion of RecordTV over time to show that the number of Pentecostal churches increases following the introduction of channel in the municipality.

Amanda Votta (Anthropology): Chronic Pain and Opioid Prescribing at the Intersections of Socio-Economic Status, Race, and Gender

Abstract: Over 50 million people in the United States live with chronic pain. Nearly 8 million of them rely on continuous, clinician-prescribed opioids to mitigate that pain. Since 2016, however, access to prescribed opioids has been heavily regulated through state laws and clinical policies. Prompted by guidance from public health officials to curb overprescribing (Dowell et al. 2016), medical-legal regulations include dosage limits and restrictions on new prescriptions. While fewer opioids are prescribed per year overdose deaths have proliferated (Mattson et al. 2021). The research I have been conducting since 2018 explores the legal, social, and medical efforts to combat the opioid epidemic through policy and law restricting access to prescribed opioids. These policies and laws have multiplied obstacles (Knight et al. 2017) for people in chronic pain, for whom opioids are vital. I explore here some of the strategies people in chronic pain employ to navigate a biomedical system they understand as increasingly hostile to acknowledging and so treating their pain. Through the experiences of three women who are members of a chronic pain support and advocacy group, I outline their strategies for distinguish their use of opioids from non-prescribed use to clinicians while simultaneously highlighting their need for the opioid pain management that allows them to work, to engage in meaningful, fulfilling activities and relationships, and relieves some of their endless pain. They must articulate this need in a way that distances themselves from the Drug War-induced stigma associated with non-prescribed users in the hopes they are seen as deserving patients (Faust 2021; Wilbers 2020; Willen 2012) whose endless pain warrants relief. This task is made more difficult when their need for pain management intersects with factors like socio-economic status, gender, or race in ways clinicians may be biased against.