Discover the most talked about and latest scientific content & concepts.

Journal: Social science research


The aim of this study is to determine the temporal variation of ethnic segregation in the city of Tallinn, the capital of Estonia. We employ data on mobile-phone use to compare variations in segregation indices during the day, the week, and the year. The results indicate that the locations of people are more segregated at night, with considerably less segregation during the daytime. The segregation is significantly lower on workdays compared to weekends. Segregation is also lower during summer holidays compared to the winter working period. The results show that although places of residence are segregated, different ethnic groups use the city together during the day, which increases the potential for interethnic contacts. The results demonstrate also that temporal segregation indices based on mobile-phone use are considerably lower than segregation indices of places of residence that are derived from the census.

Concepts: Estonia, Tallinn, Estonian language, Mobile phone, Racial segregation, Helsinki, Annapolis, Maryland, Pirita


Past research yields mixed evidence regarding whether ethnoracial minorities trust physicians less than Whites. Using the 2002 and 2006 General Social Surveys, variegated ethnoracial differences in trust in physicians are identified by disaggregating a multidimensional physician trust scale. Compared to Whites, Blacks are less likely to trust the technical judgment and interpersonal competence of doctors. Latinos are less likely than Whites to trust the fiduciary ethic, technical judgment, and interpersonal competence of doctors. Black-Latino differences in physician trust are a function of ethnoracial differences in parental nativity. The ways ethnoracial hierarchies are inscribed into power-imbalanced clinical exchanges are discussed.

Concepts: Medicine, Sociology, Physician, Fiduciary


The theory of status characteristics and expectation states (SCT) explains how macro-level dimensions of stratification and specific abilities come to organize small group processes. The theory argues that people generate expectation states for each other based on relative standings on dimensions of stratification such that people with the more culturally valued states of the characteristics have higher expectations. Subsequently social influence, participation rates and evaluations of participation are purported to be directly related to expectation states. The result of this process is that large-scale inequalities are perpetuated in small group interactions, and individuals higher on abilities receive systematic advantages in small groups. SCT has received substantial experimental support for over 40years. However, the theory assumes that only states of relatively high and relatively low matter. That is, the theory and its applications assume that the magnitude of difference separating individuals on a dimension of stratification or ability is irrelevant. Recently, though, extensions to both the theory and its mathematics have been introduced that allow the magnitude of difference to be incorporated into the theory’s predictions, supposedly yielding more precise predictions. This paper offers an experimental test of these procedures, showing that including the magnitude of difference into the theoretical predictions yields more precise estimates that explain more status-based inequalities.

Concepts: Scientific method, Physics, Vector space, Experiment, Hypothesis, Theory, Explanation, String theory


This paper empirically assesses how immigration affects international inequality by testing the relationship between immigration and national economic development across countries in different world income groups. A series of cross-national, longitudinal analyses demonstrate that, on average, immigration has a rather small, but positive long-term effect on development levels. However, the findings also indicate that immigration has a Matthew Effect (Merton, 1968) in the world-economy: immigration disproportionately benefits higher-income countries. Moreover, the wealthiest countries reap the largest gains from immigration. Thus, from the perspective of destination countries, immigration does not appear to be a panacea for international inequality. Instead, the results indicate that immigration actually reproduces, and even exacerbates, international inequality.

Concepts: Poverty, Sociology, Economics, Mathematical analysis, Human migration, Economic inequality, Economic growth, Economic development


In the last decades value research has produced a vast number of theoretical concepts. However, it is unclear how the different value theories relate to each other. This study makes a first step toward a systematic comparison of value theories. It focuses on the individual level of the two approaches that are, at present, probably the most prominent in international research - the theory of basic human values of Shalom Schwartz and the postmodernization theory of Ronald Inglehart. Using data from the World Value Survey and the European Social Survey for West Germany we assess both the internal and the external validity of the two accounts. The results indicate that both value theories have different strengths and weaknesses. Whereas the Inglehart account has lower internal and weaker construct validity, the Schwartz account is somewhat less consistent in its predications. Nevertheless, both value conceptions are able to explain a substantial share of variation in specific attitudes and behavior.

Concepts: Scientific method, Sociology, Science, Psychometrics, Value, Theory, Explanation


Religious disaffiliation-leaving the religious tradition in which one was raised for no religious affiliation in adulthood-has become more common in recent years, though few studies have examined its consequences for the health and well-being of individuals. We use an innovative approach, comparing the health and subjective well-being of religious disaffiliates to those who remain affiliated using pooled General Social Survey samples from 1973 through 2012. We find that religious disaffiliates experience poorer health and lower well-being than those consistently affiliated and those who are consistently unaffiliated. We also demonstrate that the disadvantage for those who leave religious traditions is completely mediated by the frequency of church attendance, as disaffiliates attend church less often. Our results point to the importance of the social processes surrounding religious disaffiliation and emphasize the role of dynamics in the relationship between religious affiliation and health.

Concepts: Human, Faith, Sociology, Religion, Religious pluralism


The radius of trust - the width of one’s cooperation circle - has been widely cited by scholars from various disciplines as a key factor in the production and maintenance of public good. However, the vagueness in its conceptualization, measurement, and analysis obstructs efficient communication between empirical works, impeding the accumulation of scientific knowledge. This study develops a conceptualization of trust radius as the gradient in the level of trust in specific individuals across social ties of differing strengths. Along with this conceptualization, a new measurement scheme is constructed, which, relative to previous measures, is empirically easy-to-implement and theoretically valid in displaying individual-level variations in trust radius, highlighting trust radius' distinction from generalized trust and affinity with specific trust, and accommodating the differing tie strengths within one’s trust network. Finally, this measurement scheme is well integrated in a multilevel modeling framework to study the determinants of trust radius, which is illustrated by two examples.

Concepts: Scientific method, Epistemology, Sociology, Economics, Science, Empiricism, Empirical, TiE


Compared to girls, boys are more at risk of early school leaving. However, it is unclear whether gender differences are driven by push factors, which alienate students from the school system, or pull factors, which attract them out of it. This paper examines gender differences in early school leaving, assessing the role of previous scholastic performance, parental education, and differential employment opportunities. By analyzing two nationally representative datasets, we focus on Italy, a country with high rates of early school leaving and pronounced gender inequalities in the labor market. Our results show that gender effects are partially mediated by scholastic performance, a crucial push factor, and are stronger among low-achieving students, pointing to a higher resilience of girls to academic failure; parental education is highly protective, especially for boys. Yet, boys' higher propensity to drop out is also, at least partly, explained by better employment opportunities in the formal and informal labor market.

Concepts: Education, Gender role, High school, Employment, Woman, Labour economics


Scholars have noted that survey analysis of small subsamples-for example, same-sex parent families-is sensitive to researchers' analytical decisions, and even small differences in coding can profoundly shape empirical patterns. As an illustration, we reassess the findings of a recent article by Regnerus regarding the implications of being raised by gay and lesbian parents. Taking a close look at the New Family Structures Study (NFSS), we demonstrate the potential for misclassifying a non-negligible number of respondents as having been raised by parents who had a same-sex romantic relationship. We assess the implications of these possible misclassifications, along with other methodological considerations, by reanalyzing the NFSS in seven steps. The reanalysis offers evidence that the empirical patterns showcased in the original Regnerus article are fragile-so fragile that they appear largely a function of these possible misclassifications and other methodological choices. Our replication and reanalysis of Regnerus’s study offer a cautionary illustration of the importance of double checking and critically assessing the implications of measurement and other methodological decisions in our and others' research.

Concepts: Family, LGBT, Scientific method, Parent, Sexual orientation, Homosexuality, Gay, Lesbian


Income inequality has been contentious for millennia, a source of political conflict for centuries, and is now widely feared as a pernicious “side effect” of economic progress. But equality is only a means to an end and so must be evaluated by its consequences. The fundamental question is: What effect does a country’s level of income inequality have on its citizens' quality of life, their subjective well-being? We show that in developing nations inequality is certainly not harmful but probably beneficial, increasing well-being by about 8 points out of 100. This may well be Kuznets’s inverted “U”: In the earliest stages of development some are able to move out of the (poorly paying) subsistence economy into the (better paying) modern economy; their higher pay increases their well-being while simultaneously increasing inequality. In advanced nations, income inequality on average neither helps nor harms. Estimates are from random-intercept fixed-effects multi-level models, confirmed by over four dozen sensitivity tests. Data are from the pooled World Values/European Values Surveys, Waves 1 to 5 with 169 representative national samples in 68 nations, 1981 to 2009, and over 200,000 respondents, replicated and extended in the European Quality of Life Surveys.

Concepts: Life, Society, Simple living, Socioeconomics, Human Development Index, Economic development, Neoliberalism, Economy