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Research News

Politics/Public Policy

TV Ads Do Influence Consumers — In Elections and Beyond

By studying the outcome of the 2000 U.S. presidential election, Stanford professor Wesley Hartmann and his coauthor have proved that television advertising sells products. Along the way they also found that television advertising tipped the election in favor of George Bush over Al Gore.

History Shows a 2012 Republican Victory Is Not A Sure Thing

Support of proposals including healthcare reform and cap-and-trade environmental legislation in 2010 cost the Democrats 20 legislative seats and their majority control in the House of Representatives, says Professor David Brady. But he and his co-authors warn that the Republicans should not believe victory in the next election is assured.

Study Calls for Sheltering-in-Place in the Event of Nuclear Attack

Stanford experts have concluded that in the event of a nuclear detonation, people in large metropolitan areas are better off sheltering-in-place in basements for 12-24 hours than trying to evacuate immediately, unless a lengthy warning period is provided.

Incumbents Thrive When the Home Team Wins

Voters' decisions to support incumbents are influenced by irrelevant events such as football scores that have nothing to do with the candidates' competence or effectiveness, according to new research by Stanford Graduate School of Business scholars. It's something politicians have already figured out.

Prejudice Fuels Opposition to Obama’s Plans

Individuals’ who demonstrated implicit racial prejudices were reluctant to vote for President Barack Obama in the 2008 election and demonstrate opposition to his health care reform plan, according to a study coauthored by Stanford Graduate School of Business Professor Brian Lowery. They were more likely to support a health care reform proposal attributed to former President Bill Clinton than the same proposal from Obama.

Stanford Business School Research Underpins SEC Scrutiny of Scheduled Insider Trades

In the wake of alleged misconduct by executives at Countrywide Savings, Novatel, and Qwest, research by Stanford accounting professor Alan Jagolinzer may be prompting the Securities and Exchange Commission to rethink rules that permit scheduled trading by insiders. 

Incentives and the Financial Crisis

In any financial crisis, it is possible with 20/20 hindsight to identify the specific proximal causes. Rather than outlawing those activities, Professor Jonathan Berk recommends designing legislation that better aligns the incentives of bankers with the public interest.

Financial Restoration for the United States

During the past 200 years, there have been 16 credit crises in the United States, all marked by speculative excesses in the years immediately preceding. As the ultimate safeguard to stem a financial panic, the government should have in place the apparatus that will allow it to curtail such excesses in advance of their triggering a financial panic says Finance Professor James C. VanHorne.

India’s Slums Represent Complex Political and Social Issues

India's slums, like those depicted in the popular film "Slumdog Millionaire," are complex communities with residents of different income levels, sometimes complex relations between ethnic groups, and systems of political patronage, that interest Saumitra Jha, an assistant professor of political economy

Cost of Reducing CO2 Emissions Could Plunge 

The financial impact of regulating coal-fired power plants that produce carbon dioxide emissions under a cap-and-trade system will be much less than previously projected according to research by Professor Stefan Reichelstein and doctoral student Ozge Islegen.

Voting by Mail May Have Unintended Effects on Elections

Absentee ballots have made voting easier and more accessible to millions of Americans, but the process may have unintended effects on election outcomes, says Professor Neil Malhotra.

Can Polling Location Influence How Voters Vote?
Where you cast your ballot—whether it’s in a church, a school, or an auto garage—can have an effect on the outcome of elections, say three researchers from the Graduate School of Business.

Elections May Make Candidates Ideologically Rigid
Politicians want to assure the electorate that they share the political leanings of voters. This attention to the electoral process, says Kenneth Shotts, means that politicians are more rigid and less likely to change their positions based on new information, particularly when voters may not share that insight.

Blueprint Proposed for Wiping Out Disease-bearing Mosquitoes

Releasing genetically modified male mosquitoes could eliminate the danger of dengue fever and other mosquito-borne diseases within a year in communities of up to a million people, according to new research. The authors, including Professor Lawrence Wein, created a mathematical model to help scientists understand the order of magnitude they would have to deal with to wipe out dangerous native mosquito populations. (May 2007)

Corruption Hurts Business as Well as a Nation’s Reputation

Corruption, whether in government or in private industry, serves as a serious drag on a nation’s wealth and creates a less favorable climate for business, say researchers including Ernesto Dal Bó. For one thing, corruption swells the number of employees needed, driving up costs and sidetracking workers from jobs that could help grow an economy.

Dictatorships Often Survive with Local Support
While dictatorships are associated with armed force and even terror, many survive because of deep ethnic divisions in the general populace that act as insurance to keep dictators in power, says research by Assistant Professor Gerard Padro i Miquel. (January 2007)

Fiscal Failings of the Government’s Tobacco Settlement
The landmark 1998 agreement between the U.S. government and the nation’s major tobacco companies to pay fees on future sales of cigarettes benefited lawyers and handed politicians bragging rights, but hasn’t been a benefit to smokers’ health or pocketbooks says Professor Jeremy Bulow. (January 2007)

Demystifying the Implications of U.S. Supreme Court Appointments
Despite alarmist press, study finds that most Supreme Court appointments have little or no immediate effect on policy. (November 2006)

Bureaucracy Contributed to the 9/11 Attacks
Prior to 9/11, intelligence information was often stalled or simply ignored because of bureaucracy, says Roderick Kramer. The failures of interagency cooperation described in the 9/11 Commission Report are the same kinds of breakdowns observed in other large and complex bureaucracies. (August 2006)

Disclosure Adds Shareholder Value: Lessons from Sarbanes-Oxley’s Predecessor
The recent convictions of Ken Lay and Jeff Skilling have drawn renewed scrutiny to the effectiveness of such government regulation as the Enron-precipitated Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002. But what do we know about the success of these regulations, asks Professor Paul Oyer. To find out, he recently examined the impact of Sarbanes-Oxley’s predecessor, the 1964 Securities Acts Amendments. (July 2006)

Researchers Calculate Risks of Terrorists Detonating a Bomb
Researchers are taking a mathematical approach to terrorism in an effort to prevent terrorists from bringing major destructive weapons into the United States. Business School professor Larry Wein has studied other potential disasters such as botulism poisoning or anthrax outbreaks, but calls detonating a bomb the worst-case scenario. He is part of a team of researchers from the University’s Center for International Security and Cooperation. (March 2006)

Detecting Medicare Abuse
Through improved targeting of fraud-and-abuse law enforcement, Medicare could reduce hospital expenditures without harming patients’ health outcomes, according to research by Prof. Daniel Kessler and others. (August 2005)

Caution About a Bioterror Attack on the U.S. Milk Supply
New testing procedures and hardening U.S. government safety rules could prevent a nightmare scenario of threats to the nation’s milk supply, warns Prof. Lawrence Wein. His co-authored research paper has sparked a spirited debate about academic research and combating terrorism. (June 2005)

Government Urged to Upgrade Airport Fingerprinting System
Scanning eight or ten fingers instead of the current two could mean the U.S. government screening processes will spot a significantly higher percentage of international travelers whose fingerprints identify them as suspected terrorists. (July 2005)

Citizens Get Satisfaction from Voting
Individual voters stand a better chance of being hit by lightening on the way to the polls than of having their single vote determine an election. Yet, say researchers, we continue to vote because we get satisfaction from seeing the outcome. (October 2004)

When Is "Doing Good" Good Enough Internationally?
Ethical corporate issues rarely come down to matters of good or bad. Professor David Brady said most companies get into trouble internationally through confusion over whether they're operating by the laws of the home office, corporate headquarters, or the country where they're operating. (May 2004)

How Democracy Was Subverted in Peru
In the 1990s in Peru the chief of the secret police systematically bribed opposition parties, the media, and the judiciary—and kept detailed records. Research into those records shows that in efforts to undermine a democracy, the biggest bribes went to the news media. (May 2004)

Better Decisions Through Teamwork
The U.S. Supreme Court benefits from differences of opinions among the justices. Research that included studying how teams make decisions says when a narrow majority exists, pressure of the minority forces the majority to make think with more complexity and to consider diverse evidence. (April 2004)

Concentrating Minority Voters Builds Liberal Strength in the South
Redrawing congressional district boundaries to concentrate minority voters into specific districts has actually created a new era of liberal strength in southern House delegations says researcher Kenneth Shotts. He also argues that. sitting presidents are least likely to take citizen opinions into account when they are either above-average or below-average in popularity. (April 2004)

Doctoring the Hatch-Waxman Act
In June, the U.S. Senate overwhelmingly approved a bill to speed up the process for bringing generic drugs to market. Business School Prof. Jeremy Bulow takes aim at some corporate practices that have affected the availability of generic drugs. (August 2003)

U.S. Not Prepared for A Terrorist Anthrax Attack
Despite the fatal anthrax attack in the U.S. mail in 2001, no government response plan exists in the event of another attack. Research by Business School Professor Larry Wein and two colleagues recommends the rapid deployment of antibiotics and a series of other precautionary steps to reduce the death toll in the event of an attack. (March 2003)

The Civil Rights Act of 1991 Confounded Politicians
The highly debated Civil Rights Act of 1991 stopped and perhaps reversed the trend during the 1970s and 1980s toward industries becoming more integrated along race and gender lines, says Paul Oyer. (February 2003)

Voting at the Extremes Costs U.S. Representatives Their Seats
Scholars have long argued that voters don't really pay attention to how Congressmen vote. Research by Prof. David Brady and his co-authors proves that this is wrong. Voters notice and representatives who take extreme stands during Congressional votes can and do lose their seats when unhappy voters go to the polls, say the researchers. (November 2002)

Rapid Immunizations Recommended in Event of Bioterrorist Attack
Federal health officials made a major change in September in their guidelines for nationwide immunization against a smallpox attack after researchers argued for mass immunizations rather than a slower process based on who had been exposed to disease. (September 2002)

Production Factors, Not Conspiracies, Cause Gasoline Price Spikes
Perhaps the public doesn't trust big oil companies, but researchers say legitimate market reasons, not conspiracies, are responsible for the periodic spikes in prices at the pump. (August 2002)

The Debate Over Online Voting
Online voting can have a beneficial effect on voter turnout, and change donation patterns to political candidates says David Brady, but perhaps its most profound effect will be on local elections where it can change the amount and quality of information people get about issues and candidates. (June 2000)

Researchers Put a Price Tag on London Stock Trades
Research analyzing trades on the London Stock Exchange found that medium to large trades on average received discounts from "the touch" the term that describes the difference between investor transaction costs and the best bid-ask spreads. (March 1995)