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Concept: Wealth


Women comprise a minority of the Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics, and Medicine (STEMM) workforce. Quantifying the gender gap may identify fields that will not reach parity without intervention, reveal underappreciated biases, and inform benchmarks for gender balance among conference speakers, editors, and hiring committees. Using the PubMed and arXiv databases, we estimated the gender of 36 million authors from >100 countries publishing in >6000 journals, covering most STEMM disciplines over the last 15 years, and made a web app allowing easy access to the data ( Despite recent progress, the gender gap appears likely to persist for generations, particularly in surgery, computer science, physics, and maths. The gap is especially large in authorship positions associated with seniority, and prestigious journals have fewer women authors. Additionally, we estimate that men are invited by journals to submit papers at approximately double the rate of women. Wealthy countries, notably Japan, Germany, and Switzerland, had fewer women authors than poorer ones. We conclude that the STEMM gender gap will not close without further reforms in education, mentoring, and academic publishing.

Concepts: Statistics, Mathematics, Physics, Science, Approximation, Estimation, Computer science, Wealth


Political polarization and extremism are widely thought to be driven by the surge in economic inequality in many countries around the world. Understanding why inequality persists depends on knowing the causal effect of inequality on individual behavior. We study how inequality affects redistribution behavior in a randomized “give-or-take” experiment that created equality, advantageous inequality, or disadvantageous inequality between two individuals before offering one of them the opportunity to either take from or give to the other. We estimate the causal effect of inequality in representative samples of German and American citizens (n= 4,966) and establish two main findings. First, individuals imperfectly equalize payoffs: On average, respondents transfer 12% of the available endowments to realize more equal wealth distributions. This means that respondents tolerate a considerable degree of inequality even in a setting in which there are no costs to redistribution. Second, redistribution behavior in response to disadvantageous and advantageous inequality is largely asymmetric: Individuals who take from those who are richer do not also tend to give to those who are poorer, and individuals who give to those who are poorer do not tend to take from those who are richer. These behavioral redistribution types correlate in meaningful ways with support for heavy taxes on the rich and the provision of welfare benefits for the poor. Consequently, it seems difficult to construct a majority coalition willing to back the type of government interventions needed to counter rising inequality.

Concepts: Psychology, Causality, Poverty, Economic inequality, Binary relation, Equality, Wealth, Iraq War troop surge of 2007


Altruism, although costly, may promote well-being for people who give. Costly giving by adults has received considerable attention, but less is known about the possible benefits, as well as biological and environmental correlates, of altruism in early childhood. In the current study, we present evidence that children who forgo self-gain to help other people show greater vagal flexibility and higher subsequent vagal tone than children who do not, and children from less wealthy families behave more altruistically than those from wealthier families. These results suggest that (a) altruism should be viewed through a biopsychosocial lens, (b) the influence of privileged contexts on children’s willingness to make personal sacrifices for others emerges early, and © altruism and healthy vagal functioning may share reciprocal relations in childhood. When children help others at a cost to themselves, they could be playing an active role in promoting their own well-being as well as the well-being of others.

Concepts: Childhood, Ethology, Social psychology, Reciprocal altruism, Altruism, Wealth, Capital accumulation, Charity


The cost and prevalence of chronic health conditions increase in late life and can negatively impact accumulated wealth. Based on the financial challenges midaged and older adults face, we sought to understand the evolution of distinctive sequences of chronic health conditions and how these sequences affect retirement savings. We used 10 waves of the Health and Retirement Study and tracked the health states and changes in wealth of 5,540 individuals. We identified five typical sequences of chronic health conditions, which are defined as follows: Multimorbidity, Comorbidity, Mild Disease, Late Event, and No Disease. Wealth accumulation differed across the five sequences. Multimorbidity and Comorbidity were the most costly sequences. Individuals with these health patterns, respectively, had $91,205 and $95,140, less net worth than respondents identified with No Disease. Our findings suggest policy makers consider sequential disease patterns when planning for the health-care needs and expenditures of older Americans.

Concepts: Medicine, Epidemiology, Death, Economics, Aging, Wealth, Capital accumulation


Public and private policymakers from red and blue states are converging on three conclusions that portend a momentous choice for physicians accustomed to benefiting from health care’s growing share of the gross domestic product (GDP). First, if the average health gain per dollar spent (“value”) were brought to the level of the highest-value U.S. health care providers or of national health systems in other wealthy countries, our per capita spending would decrease by 15 to 30%.(1),(2) Second, the annual gap of 2 to 3 percentage points between health spending growth and GDP growth saps broader economic vitality.(3) Warren Buffett likens . . .

Concepts: Health care, Medicine, Healthcare, Gross domestic product, Economic growth, Wealth, Value investing, Warren Buffett


To more clearly articulate, and more graphically demonstrate, the impact of poverty on various health outcomes and social conditions by comparing the poorest counties to the richest counties in the United States and to other countries in the world.

Concepts: Africa, Poverty, United States, Poverty in the United States, Economic inequality, Wealth, Highest-income counties in the United States, Lowest-income counties in the United States


The mummies of Kha and his wife Merit were found intact in an undisturbed tomb in western Thebes near the ancient workers' village of Deir el-Medina. Previous MDCT (this abbreviation needs spelling out) investigations showed that the bodies of Kha and Merit did not undergo classical royal 18th Dynasty artificial mummification, which included removal of the internal organs. It was, therefore, concluded that the retention of the viscera in the body, combined with an absence of canopic jars in the burial chamber, meant the couple underwent a short and shoddy funerary procedure, despite their relative wealth at death. Nevertheless, all internal organs - brain, ocular bulbs/ocular nerves, thoracic and abdominal organs - showed a very good state of preservation, which contradicts the previous interpretation above. In order to better understand the type of mummification used to embalm these bodies, both wrapped mummies were reinvestigated using new generation X-ray imaging and chemical microanalyses Here we provide evidence that both individuals underwent a relatively high quality of mummification, fundamentally contradicting previous understanding. Elucidated “recipes”, whose components had anti-bacterial and anti-insecticidal properties, were used to treat their bodies. The time and effort undoubtedly employed to embalm both Kha and Merit and the use of imported costly resins, notably Pistacia, do not support the previously held view that the two individuals were poorly mummified. Despite a lack of evisceration, the approach clearly allowed their in situ preservation as well as affording a fairly successful mummification.

Concepts: X-ray, Heart, Ancient Egypt, Organs, Embalming, Wealth, Burial, Mummy


Accurate and timely estimates of population characteristics are a critical input to social and economic research and policy. In industrialized economies, novel sources of data are enabling new approaches to demographic profiling, but in developing countries, fewer sources of big data exist. We show that an individual’s past history of mobile phone use can be used to infer his or her socioeconomic status. Furthermore, we demonstrate that the predicted attributes of millions of individuals can, in turn, accurately reconstruct the distribution of wealth of an entire nation or to infer the asset distribution of microregions composed of just a few households. In resource-constrained environments where censuses and household surveys are rare, this approach creates an option for gathering localized and timely information at a fraction of the cost of traditional methods.

Concepts: Demography, Sociology, Economics, Mobile phone, Distribution of wealth, Wealth, Economic development, Wealth condensation


US medical spending growth slowed between 2004 and 2013. At the same time, many Americans faced rising copayments and deductibles, which may have particularly affected lower-income people. To explore whether the health spending slowdown affected all income groups equally, we divided the population into income quintiles. We then assessed trends in health expenditures by and on behalf of people in each quintile using twenty-two national surveys carried out between 1963 and 2012. Before the 1965 passage of legislation creating Medicare and Medicaid, the lowest income quintile had the lowest expenditures, despite their worse health compared to other income groups. By 1977 the unadjusted expenditures for the lowest quintile exceeded those for all other income groups. This pattern persisted until 2004. Thereafter, expenditures fell for the lowest quintile, while rising more than 10 percent for the middle three quintiles and close to 20 percent for the highest income quintile, which had the highest expenditures in 2012. The post-2004 divergence of expenditure trends for the wealthy, middle class, and poor occurred only among the nonelderly. We conclude that the new pattern of spending post-2004, with the wealthiest quintile having the highest expenditures for health care, suggests that a redistribution of care toward wealthier Americans accompanied the health spending slowdown.

Concepts: Health care, Poverty, Household income in the United States, Wealth, Working class, Quintile, Upper middle class, American middle class


Based on evolutionary theory, Trivers & Willard (TW) predicted the existence of mechanisms that lead parents with high levels of resources to bias offspring sex composition to favor sons and parents with low levels of resources to favor daughters. This hypothesis has been tested in samples of wealthy individuals but with mixed results. Here, I argue that both sample selection due to a high number of missing cases and a lacking specification of the timing of wealth accumulation contribute to this equivocal pattern. This study improves on both issues: First, analyses are based on a data set of U.S. billionaires with near-complete information on the sex of offspring. Second, subgroups of billionaires are distinguished according to the timing when they acquired their wealth. Informed by recent insights on the timing of a potential TW effect in animal studies, I state two hypotheses. First, billionaires have a higher share of male offspring than the general population. Second, this effect is larger for heirs and heiresses who are wealthy at the time of conception of all of their children than for self-made billionaires who acquired their wealth during their adult lives, that is, after some or all of their children have already been conceived. Results do not support the first hypothesis for all subgroups of billionaires. But for males, results are weakly consistent with the second hypothesis: Heirs but not self-made billionaires have a higher share of male offspring than the U.S. population. Heiresses, on the other hand, have a much lower share of male offspring than the U.S. average. This hints to a possible interplay of at least two mechanisms affecting sex composition. Implications for future research that would allow disentangling the distinct mechanisms are discussed.

Concepts: Scientific method, Male, Evolution, Female, Sex, Hypothesis, Wealth, Capital accumulation