Of the lineage of David

There have been studies showing that thinking about where we ultimately headed (death boosts our self esteem because it causes us to search for happy thoughts. Now comes research finding that our performance is enhanced by thinking about whence we came -- our ancestors.

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Over the river and through the woods...

...To Grandfather's house we go; The horse knows the way to carry the sleigh through the white and drifted snow.
If we could get to places instantaneously, would we opt for it? To put it another way, is travel a cost or a benefit?

Related: Standard GDP accounting understates value of Swedish reindeer. There's more to reindeer than jerky.

The whys of the riots

UPDATED: Channel 4 news explores the reasons behind the riots in London and elsewhere:

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What would you have done at Penn State?

Scott Huler in Scientific American writes about why witnesses don't report abuse when they witness it:

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Creating a culture of candor

Some lessons for the church from The Harvard Business Review on creating a culture where people can be honest for the good of the organization:

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Could you convince a Christian you're a Christian?

What Happens When We Turn the World's Most Famous Robot Test on Ourselves? The Atlantic:

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Fifty years of family planning policy helps families, society

Family planning policies over the last 50 years have had significant positive effects on children’s well-being, according to a new paper presented at the Spring 2013 Conference on the Brookings Papers on Economic Activity (BPEA).

According to the study, children born after taxpayer-funded family planning programs began benefitted from increased economic resources: lived in higher income households and were significantly less likely to live in poverty or in households receiving any public assistance.

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Kindness: the key to long term relationships

The Atlantic reveals the key to "happily ever after":

Social scientists first started studying marriages by observing them in action in the 1970s in response to a crisis: Married couples were divorcing at unprecedented rates.

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1 in 5 adult Americans have never married

Pew Social Trends reports a record share of adult Americans have ever married as values, economics and gender patterns change. In 1960 1 in 10 adults had never married. Today that figure
is 1 in 5.

Americans polled were divided over the value of marriage to society. 50% said “society is just as well off it people have priorities other than marriage and children.” At the same time, 68% of those polled believe if a couple plans to spend their life together they should marry.

Part of the explanation for the “decline in marriage” is that young adults are choosing to delay marriage. Contraception in hand with women’s increased participation in full time careers means men and women prefer delaying marriage than in the past.

There is a racial divide. 36 percent of blacks have never married while 16 percent of whites have never married. At same time, 58% of blacks say marriage is “it is ‘very important’ that a couple legally marries if they plan to spend the rest of their lives together, as opposed to 44% of whites.

ST-2014-09-24-never-married-15.pngA racial divide also emerged on the question of important
characteristics in a spouse. While whites and blacks put “someone with a steady job” as very important, 77% of blacks agreed while 59% of whites agreed. On the question “at least as much education” 43% of blacks agree while 23% of whites agreed.

There is also a gender divide as well. Women want a spouse with a steady job: 78% rate this as very important. 46 percent of men say it is “finding someone with a steady job is very important” in a marriage partner.

Pew and several other sources emphasized current economic conditions. Unemployment remains high. Much of those unemployed today are long term unemployed. In the language of the Fed, these may be scarred workers, workers who may never get the kinds of jobs they could have if their period of unemployment was short. They skills are becoming dated. Or they are labeled unemployable because employers assume other employers learned something about them. Potential spouses appear to be putting great value on employability, and the best evidence is you have a steady job.

The average age at first marriage, on this analysis, is directly related the rate of unemployment.

See:

Can’t find a spouse? Let’s ask Janet Yellen to help | Vox
For the young money is increasingly trumping marriage | NYT
Americans aren’t getting married anymore | FiveThirtyEight

The recession and slow recovery have led many young people to delay striking
out on their own
 and likely to delay marriage as well.

In the Pew survey, young adults disproportionately cited lack of financial security as their main reason for not getting married. But with recent data suggesting a hint of improvement for young people’s finances, it’s possible more of them will start walking down the aisle as well.

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