Saturday, July 01, 2017

Non-Profits and Volunteering in the Greenwood Help Fight Recessions

“One extra non-profit per one thousand people added up to a half percentage point fewer out-of-work residents.” 

This is from Melody Warnick's This is Where You Belong: The Art and Science of Loving the Place You Live.  We are reading this for our alumni study group this year.

The finding is based on a running study by the National Conference on Citizenship.  They counted a baseline of non-profits and volunteering per capita in many cities and every county, starting in 2005.  When the recession hit at the end of that decade, the Conference was able to correlate the non-profit rate with the unemployment rate.  

The result:  places with more non-profits before the recession had less unemployment during the recession.

Warnick's reading (following other researchers): places were people show more "place attachment" by volunteering, also show greater local investment in more material ways.

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Reading Harry Potter Reduces Prejudice

My topic on WKYB this morning.

For this twentieth anniversary of the release of the first Harry Potter book, I was happy to review the studies of the good moral effects of reading this series.

The central plot of the series pits the racist villains, who believe they are magical "pure bloods," against what they regard as impure "mud bloods" and inferior "muggles." Harry Potter, though himself of a magical lineage, fights heroically with the good guys of all groups against the racists.

Researchers in Italy tested the effects of this story on children. With one group they read and discussed passages in which Harry and friends stood up to the racists.  With another group they read and discussed other passages, not dealing with this conflict.  They then tested the children on their attitudes toward immigrants, a stigmatized group in Italy.

The first group of kids absorbed the message of Harry Potter: they were significantly less prejudiced toward immigrants than the other group.