George Wythe Review Spring 2016

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Editor-in-Chief: Timothy Wier Associate Editor: Ashlyn Olson Publication Editor: Megan Elliott Research Editor: Jeremy Tjia Faculty Supervisor: Dr. Michael Haynes

PATRICK HENRY COLLEGE Purcellville, Virginia

Copyright © 2016 ISSN 2153-8085 (print)

The George Wythe Review is an undergraduate journal dedicated to the integration of faith and reason in American domestic public policy. The editors of this journal recognize that contemporary domestic public policy is navigating the uncharted waters of rapidly advancing technology, an increasingly globalized political environment, and a bureaucratic federal government. The journal is a response to this climate, providing undergraduate students at Patrick Henry College with a venue to engage this climate through quality academic papers. In the vein of the journal’s namesake, the editors are committed to fostering an environment for discussion that enhances both the Government: American Politics and Policy major and the mission of Patrick Henry College. The George Wythe Review is published twice during the academic year by the American Politics and Policy students of Patrick Henry College. Direct all correspondence to the address below. Essays in the journal do not necessarily represent the views of Patrick Henry College, the editors, or the editorial board. The responsibility for opinions and the accuracy of facts in the essays rest solely with the individual authors. Patrick Henry College 10 Patrick Henry Circle Purcellville, VA 20132 (540) 338-1776 All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means—electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise—without the prior written permission of the copyright owner. Authors of the respective essays in this publication retain copyright privileges. Copyright © 2016• Printed in the United States of America.

CO NTENTS ________________ Volume 7 • No. 2 • Spring 2016

Letter from the Editor


Disabilities in the Public Square: Civic Engagement and the Americans with Disabilities Act


Johannah Christophel In the name of inclusivity, the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) has changed sidewalk curbs and voting machines, but it is unclear if it has actually changed behavior. This study explores the correlation between the ADA’s implementation and civic participation among America’s disabled community.

Video Games and Violence: The Blur Between Fantasy and Reality


R. Shane Roberts, Jr. In recent years, video games have been subjected to heightened scrutiny because of their possible correlation to increased violence including mass shootings. This study examines the correlation between violent video games and violent acts.

The Feasibility of Road User Fees and Other Alternative Sources of Transportation Funding


Joshua Amberg The nation faces an approaching crisis in transportation funding. In the face of inadequate revenues, new forms of funding are necessary to keep the transportation system solvent, such as the vehicle miles traveled fee (VMT-F). The paper will assess both the strengths and weaknesses of the VMT-F, along with various other alternative methods of transportation funding.

Ellis Island and Wall Street: The Impacts of Economic Recessions on Assimilation


Lisa Mattackal Arriving to the United States is only the first part of an immigrant’s story; the process of assimilating into a host nation takes decades and often spans generations. This study examines the impact that periods of economic recession have on the assimilation of immigrants into the United States through both qualitative and quantitative methods. Ultimately, this study finds that recessions impacted economic—but neither cultural nor civic—assimilation.


Letter From the Editor Welcome to the Spring 2016 edition of the George Wythe Review! After spending three years working on this journal, this edition leaves me with some bitter-sweetness. On the one hand, it’s tough to leave something we have invested our time and energy into for years. On the other, it’s impossible to imagine a better team to transfer leadership to. My team and I are proud to present you our final edition of the journal. The policy discussions presented in this issue revolve around four key areas not only of American politics and policy, but American culture at large—disabilities, gun violence, taxes, and immigration. All of these key areas have made up a significant portion of public policy discussion in the U.S., and we are excited to participate in those discussions at a scholarly and academic level. In her paper addressing the Americans with Disabilities Act, Johanna Christophel questions whether the ADA has significantly impacted political participation among the disabled community. Her research incorporates a variety of data points—ranging from religious participation to wheelchair ramps at polling locations—arriving at some potentially surprising conclusions. While discussions of gun violence usually center around restrictions on gun ownership and 2nd Amendment rights, R. Shane Roberts takes a unique perspective on the issue. He hypothesizes that violent video games, an increasingly prevalent component of contemporary culture, have an effect on the psyche of individuals who eventually commit violent gun crimes. In an effort to address poor forms of government revenue, Joshua Amberg looks at the feasibility of road user fees as a form of taxation. Comparing user fees to other modes of taxation, he eventually arrives at the conclusion that they are a more efficient type of tax than a blanket charge to all citizens. Lisa Mattackal closes out this edition of the journal with the most controversial topic in American politics this year: immigration. Looking at assimilation rates and economic recessions, she asks whether the latter directly impacts the former. I am truly thankful for the work put in by Ashlyn Olson, Megan Elliott, and Jeremy Tjia, without whom this journal would not be possible. Specifically, in addition to

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her other editing duties, Ms. Olson has led the charge to produce our second annual Domestic Policy Symposium, featuring the best authors of this academic year and responses from some of Patrick Henry College’s faculty. Her work has ensured that the symposium will remain a key component of the Review’s presence on our campus for years to come. Finally, it is my honor to introduce Christian McGuire, the new editor-in-chief for the George Wythe Review. His experience, work ethic, and vision for the future will carry this journal forward in new and exciting ways, and I cannot wait to see what he and his team accomplish. He is joined by Shane Roberts (associate editor), Keith Zimmerman (publication editor), and William Bock (research editor). Thank you to the readers of the George Wythe Review. I look forward to seeing how this journal continues to serve you in the coming years. For the George Wythe Review, Timothy W. Wier Editor-in-Chief

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DISABILITIES IN THE PUBLIC SQUARE: CIVIC ENGAGEMENT AND THE AMERICANS WITH DISABILITIES ACT Johanna Christophel Abstract Inclusivity pervades American culture. From philosophies to sexual identities, nearly everything is accepted into the American melting pot. In the midst of this, one group is often forgotten: the physically and mentally disabled. In the name of inclusivity, the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) has changed sidewalk curbs and voting machines, but it is unclear if it has actually changed behavior. This study explores the correlation between the ADA’s implementation and civic participation among America’s disabled community. Additionally, this study examines data over the past twenty-five years to determine if the ADA’s accessibility policies have actually made American life more inclusive for the disabled. To gauge the effectiveness of the ADA, factors such as voter turnout, poverty rates, and religious participation need to be examined. After considering the variables, this study’s data demonstrates a moderate correlation between the ADA’s implementation and greater civic engagement for the disabled. ___________________________________

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Introduction In November 2014, Greg Abbott was elected the forty-eighth governor of Texas. After a tragic running accident left him a paraplegic, Abbott became permanently confined to a wheelchair. While his physical disability is a significant part of his life, it did not hinder Abbot from rising up through Texan politics and arriving at the governor’s mansion. His experience begs the question: is this a typical or even usual occurrence? Has American society reached a point where disabilities are truly no longer a barrier to serving in public office? Are the disabled even participating in politics at a higher rate? While President Franklin Delano Roosevelt took great care to conceal his disability, Abbott openly embraces his. Does Abbott’s success indicate that American civic life is now more open and inclusive to disabled citizens? Over the past twenty-five years, the United States has slowly implemented the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). When signed by President George H.W. Bush in 1990, the ADA was hailed as enabling America’s mentally and physically disabled to more freely engage in American life. By requiring voting machines and polling places become more accessible, the ADA sought to open the door to greater political participation. This study attempts to determine if this goal has actually been fulfilled. To reach a conclusion, this study seeks to fill the gap in research on the correlation between the ADA’s implementation and civic engagement among America’s disabled community. Rather than scrutinizing the miniscule components of the ADA’s policy implementation, this study considers the Act’s general social impact. Research will be conducted to answer the question: is there any correlation between the ADA’s long-term implementation and increased civic engagement among America’s disabled community? Because such a correlation exists, it seems that national disability policies possess a promising ability to trigger meaningful behavioral changes.

Literature Review The Americans with Disabilities Act seeks to impact nearly every element of American life. From employment to education to health care to political participation, the ADA has had varied success in its attempt to make life accessible to America’s largest minority group. Wehman (2011) found that a stark gap still remains between the disabled and non-disabled with regards to internet access. Barton (2009) discovered that disability groups remain fragmented and thus struggle to wield substantial political clout. Oschwald, et. al (2011), found that the ADA has done little to affect how law enforcement agencies interact with mentally and physically-disabled individuals. Oschwald’s results indicate that within the sphere

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of criminal justice, the physically disabled are far less likely to report crimes and are far more likely to be victims. The same study demonstrates that this is one area of American civic society where the ADA has failed to incorporate the disabled. While the ADA strives to impact the lives of the disabled in a meaningful way, data suggests that it fails to do that effectively. In an analysis of employment rates of disabled individuals, Barton (2011) discovered that America’s disabled population is still locked in a “separate and unequal subpopulation.” Maroto (2013) likewise found that twenty years after its passage, the ADA had fallen short in its efforts to increase employment rates. The implications of these two studies are stark, since individuals in lower socioeconomic classes are less likely to be politically active and engaged in their civic community. Furthermore, as Scott (1979) found, the unemployed within lower socioeconomic classes are even less likely to be civically engaged. Fulton (2011) and Wilhelmus (1996) considered the accessibility of library web content, as influenced by different disability-rights laws. They ultimately found that while some sites had improved, many were still difficult for the disabled to access. Crowley (2013) extended the scope of these studies by analyzing general web accessibility for disabled individuals, concluding that accessibility of online information is not ideal. Crowley’s study indicates a general lack of access to online information within the physically-disabled community. Overall, this translates to less access to civic and political information, potentially breeding isolation. By studying ADA enforcement, Raymond (2013) found that the majority of enforcement has come from private attorneys initiating lawsuits and profiting off of these lawsuits. He concluded that implementation has come from the private sector, and there must be greater governmental enforcement of the law in order for it to be effective. According to Burgdorf (2008), judicial decisions are the largest impediment to the ADA’s effectiveness. Many judges limit the ADA’s coverage by removing remedies available to the disabled and expanding defense options available to employers. However, there have been some favorable Supreme Court decisions that uphold integration requirements and protect disabled prisoners.

Data and Methods This study employs the 1990 Americans with Disabilities Act definition of disability, “a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities, a person who has a history or record of such an impairment, or a person who is perceived by others as having such an impairment” (Search Additionally, Robert D. Putnam’s (1996) definition of civic engagement, “people’s connections with the life of their communities,” is being used. While civic engagement certainly involves political activities such as voting, it

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also includes an individual’s ability to be actively engaged in all elements of the public sphere (Civic Participation, n.d.). A civically-empowered individual has a sense of inclusive belonging in the national community. This study measures civic engagement through both external and internal factors. Civic engagement requires two things: an inclusive civil society and the utilization of that inclusivity by the disabled community. As a result, this study considers the external factors of polling place accessibility and interactions between law enforcement and the disabled. The internal variables analyzed by this study are religious activity, poverty, employment, voter turnout, and the acquisition of education. Through quantitative data analysis, this study evaluates these variables at various points in time during the past twenty-five years. This data enables the creation of longitudinal trend studies that demonstrate whether or not there has been a substantive shift in civic engagement over the past two and a half decades. Secondary survey data is drawn from sources including the Government Accountability Office, the National Organization on Disability (NOD, n.d.), and the United States Census Bureau. During presidential election years 2000 and 2008, the Government Accountability Office conducted surveys of the accessibility of polling places nationwide (Voters with Disabilities, 2001; Voters with Disabilities, 2013). Likewise, the Department of Justice has calculated the rate of disabled victims of violent crime over time. Prior to the passage of the ADA, the National Organization on Disability began tracking rates of religious participation, employment, and poverty among America’s disabled community. The NOD has continued to generate data, conducting surveys as recently as 2010. The United States Census Bureau tracks educational attainment levels of individuals with disabilities, from those lacking a high school diploma to those possessing a bachelor’s degree. Employing data from the federal government, researchers from Rutgers University and Syracuse University have tracked voter turnout rates among the disabled community (Schur, 2008; Schur, 2012; Schur, 2013). Throughout this study’s data analysis, particular consideration is given to similar data on nondisabled Americans. This context helps to alleviate variances based on intervening variables, such as an economic downturn or nationwide changes in college enrollment. Identifiable trends emerge from the longitudinal studies of the past twenty-five years of ADA implementation. As time increases for ADA implementation, factors external to the disabled community should improve. The crimes committed against the disabled should decrease, and polling places should become more accessible. Variables internal to the disabled community, such as the poverty rate and educational attainment levels, should improve as well. All of these factors would indicate that the ADA has generated increased inclusion of disabled Americans into our nation’s civic life.

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Research In November 2008, over 130 million Americans voted in the presidential election (2008 Presidential, n.d.). In prior elections, many disabled Americans faced the pivotal, disenfranchising question, “is my polling place accessible?” In research conducted in 2000 and 2008 respectively, the Government Accountability Office (GAO, n.d.) discovered that polling places across the nation are trending towards increased accessibility for the physically disabled. In 2000, the GAO drew a 100-member representative sample of 3,074 counties in the continental United States (Voters with Disabilities, 2001). On Election Day, the GAO visited three to eight polling places within each county, resulting in 496 polling places total. At each location, the GAO observed various features at the facility which could potentially impede access: a lack of accessible parking, steep ramps, high door thresholds, and voting booths that did not accommodate voters in wheelchairs. Based on their findings, the GAO concluded that only 16% of polling places nationwide had no potential impediments to physically disabled voters. 56% of polling places had potential impediments but offered curbside voting as an alternative for disabled voters. 28% of polling places had potential impediments, but did not offer curbside voting. During the 2008 election, the GAO repeated the study on polling place accessibility in order to track any significant change over the previous eight years. While the proportion of polling places with potential impediments and without curbside voting remained functionally static, there was a change in the number of polling places with no potential impediments (Voters with Disabilities, 2013). On November 4, 2008, GAO researchers visited 730 randomly selected polling places in 79 counties in the continental United States. They found that 27% of polling places had no potential impediments to the physically disabled. 45% of polling places had potential impediments but offered curbside voting. 27% of polling places had potential impediments and did not offer curbside voting. Compared to the GAO’s findings in the 2000 election cycle, there was an eleven percent increase in the number of polling places with no impediments by 2008. Since the percentage of polling places with impediments and without curbside voting remained the same, the shift clearly occurred when polling places with curbside voting changed to polling places with no potential impediments at all. Figure 1 and Figure 2 portray the increase over time in polling places with no potential impediments. Overall, polling places are trending toward greater accessibility for the physically disabled.

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Figure 1

Figure 2

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In a different policy area, for several years, the Department of Justice has tracked crimes committed against disabled victims. In the category of nonfatal, serious violent crime, the number of criminal acts committed against disabled victims increased between 2009 and 2012. In 2009, there were 15.6 acts of nonfatal, serious violent crime committed against disabled people per 1000 (Harrell, 2011; Harrell, 2014). In 2010, there were 17.9 per 1000; in 2011, there were 21.4 per 1000; and in 2012, there were 22.2 per 1000 (Harrell, 2014). The number of nonfatal, serious violent criminal acts committed against nondisabled people was much lower during this period. In 2009, there were 7.4 such acts per 1000 committed against nondisabled people. In 2010, there were 6.5 per 1000; in 2011, there were 6 per 1000; in 2012, there were 6.5 per 1000. In general, the rate of violent crime committed against disabled individuals has been between two and three times higher than that of violent crime committed against the nondisabled. While violent crime committed against the nondisabled held steady between 2009 and 2012, there was a steady increase in violent crime committed against members of America’s disabled community. Figure 3 highlights the stark contrast between these two statistics. Figure 3

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In data collected over a 24-year period, the National Organization on Disability found that the gap in religious attendance between disabled and nondisabled Americans generally shrunk. The NOD defined religious attendance as attending a religious service at least once per month (The ADA, 20). The NOD conducted telephone interviews with 1001 non-institutionalized disabled Americans and 788 non-institutionalized Americans without disabilities. All of the respondents were over the age of eighteen. The NOD combined a Random Digit Dialing technique with re-contacting individuals who had been previously identified as disabled. In its study, the NOD found a downward trend in religious attendance among disabled Americans from 1986 to 2010 (The ADA, 20). In 1986, 55% of interviewees attended a religious service once per month. By 1994, this statistic dropped to 48% of interviewees attended a religious service once per month. In 2010, 50% of interviewees reported monthly attendance. While religious attendance among the disabled trended downward during this period, it correlated with national trends among the nondisabled. While 66% of nondisabled interviewees reported attending religious services monthly in 1986, this statistic dropped to 57% by 2010. Nondisabled interviewees reported an anomalous spike in religious service attendance in 2000. In 2000, there was a 65% attendance rate among nondisabled respondents, up 8 percent from the previous and following years. As demonstrated in Figure 4, there has been a gradual but steady downward trend in religious attendance. Figure 4

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Although both disabled and nondisabled Americans attended religious services less during this period, the gap between the two groups shrank over the course of the NOD’s studies. In the anomalous data from the year 2000, there was a massive spike in the gap between the two groups, but overall the gap has grown gradually smaller. In 1986, there was an 11-point gap between disabled and nondisabled American adults. In 1994, this gap had shrunk to 10 points. The gap was an all-time low of 3 points in 1998, but stabilized to an 8-point gap in 2004 and a 7 point gap in 2010. This longitudinal trend indicates that the religious practices of America’s disabled community are becoming more in line with national trends as a whole. However, the smaller gap also indicates that the disabled became more non-religious at a slower rate than the nondisabled during the same period. Over the twenty-four year study, religious attendance among the disabled dropped by 5 points, whereas the nondisabled saw a corresponding 9-point drop. This could indicate a steadier affinity for religious observance among the disabled community than among the nondisabled community. The NOD survey also tracked individuals living under the poverty line during the period from 1986 to 2010. Along with the national average for nondisabled people, poverty gradually dropped among the disabled community. When the survey was first conducted in 1986, 51% of disabled respondents reported living under the poverty line (The ADA, 20). In 1998, the statistic dropped to 34%, and in 2010 it had dropped to 19%. This correlated with a drop in poverty among nondisabled Americans. In 1986, 29% of nondisabled respondents reported living under the poverty line. In 1998, only 12% reported living under the poverty line. However, after 2004 the number of nondisabled individuals living under the poverty line began to increase, reaching 22% in 2010. While there was a spike in poverty among the nondisabled, the poverty rate among the disabled community continued in a steady downward trend throughout the period. The poverty rate among the disabled dropped at a faster rate than for the nondisabled. From 1986 to 2004, the poverty rate dropped by 25 points among disabled respondents. Among nondisabled respondents, the corresponding drop was only 20 points. When taken from beginning (1986). to end (2010), the poverty rate dropped by a total of 32 points for the disabled and 7 points for the nondisabled. In the 2010 statistics, the poverty rate for nondisabled respondents was actually higher than for disabled respondents, as portrayed in Figure 5.

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Figure 5

Since 1998, the NOD has tracked the contrast in employment rates among disabled and nondisabled Americans. During intervals from 1998 to 2010, the NOD surveyed 1000 working age adults, age 18-64 (The ADA, 20). From 1998 to 2004, the employment rate of disabled Americans grew slowly but steadily, from 29% in 1998, to 32% in 2000, and to 35% in 2004. The employment rate increased around 6 points over the eight-year period. During this time, the employment rate of nondisabled respondents held relatively steady, at 79% in 1998, 81% in 2000, and 78% in 2004. Likely due to the 2008 recession, the data from the 2010 NOD survey indicates a sharp drop in employment amongst both groups. There was a 21% employment rate among disabled respondents in 2010 and a 59% employment rate among nondisabled respondents. Between 2004 and 2010, there was a 19-point drop in employment for nondisabled respondents, but the drop was only 14 points for disabled respondents. Compiling statistics from various surveys including the United States Census Bureau, researchers at Rutgers and Syracuse Universities studied voter turnout in presidential elections. Since 1996, there has been a steady uptrend in voter turnout among the disabled community, increasing at a faster pace than voter turnout in the nondisabled community (Schur, 2013). In 1992, 45% of eligible voters in the disabled community voted in the election. This number took a

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sharp dive in the 1996 election, when only 33% of eligible disabled voters participated. However, this corresponded with a less severe 6-point decrease in the nondisabled community compared to data from 1992. By the 2000 election cycle, disabled voter turnout had reached 41% and increased steadily until it most recently hit 57% in both the 2008 and 2012 election cycles. Turnout among the nondisabled community has increased steadily since 1996, though at a slower rate of change than that of the disabled community. In 1996, 50% of nondisabled eligible voters turned out to the polls (Schur, 2013). Like statistics from the disabled community, these numbers steadily increased from 50% in 1996, to 56% in 2004, to 63% in 2012. As indicated in Figure 6, while turnout has increased for both groups, the increase has come at a faster rate for disabled voters. Thus, the increase in the disabled community’s voter turnout indicates something greater at work than merely becoming aligned with national trends. Figure 6

For any disadvantaged group, the acquisition of education is an important indicator of civic inclusion. Since 1997, the United States Census Bureau has tracked the educational attainment of disabled individuals. In the Bureau’s data, there is a distinction between individuals with severe disabilities and individuals with moderate disabilities. For the purposes of the data, severe disability represents complete impairment, whereas moderate disability indicates partial

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impairment (Brault, 2012). People with severe disabilities are defined as those who are, for example, deaf, blind, or unable to perform functional activities such as walking or using stairs. Those with moderate disabilities are defined as individuals who have difficulty seeing, hearing, or performing functional activities. For individuals with moderate disabilities, the percentage of the population completely lacking a high school diploma decreased from 1997 to 2010, and the percentage graduating college increased (Brault, 2008; Brault 2012; McNeil, 2001; Steinmetz, 2006). Likewise, the relative number of moderately disabled individuals possessing only a high school diploma decreased, while the relative number possessing at least some college experience increased. As evidenced by Table 1 and Figure 7, educational attainment for individuals with moderate disabilities generally improved from 1997 to 2010. Table 1—Educational Attainment of the Moderately Disabled

Figure 7

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While the gains were weaker, the educational attainment of individuals with severe disabilities likewise indicated improvement over this period. In 1996, 32.6% of severely disabled individuals reported possessing no high school diploma. This statistic dropped to 26.6% in 2002 yet somewhat plateaued in 2005 and 2010, at 16.4% in 2005 and 18.4% in 2010. The percentage of individuals possessing a high school diploma remained fairly steady as well, at 34.8% in 1997, 34.2% in 2002, 36.6% in 2005, and 32.1% in 2010. Severely disabled persons saw a sharp decline in college graduations, dropping from a high of 32.3% in 1997 to a low of 13.5% in 2010. However, this drop in college graduation corresponded with an overall increase in severely disabled individuals attending college. In 1997, 23.2% of severely disabled individuals reported some level of college experience. By 2010, 35.9% reported college experience. As indicated in Table 2 and Figure 8, educational attainment for severely disabled individuals generally improved from 1997 to 2010. Table 2—Educational Attainment of the Severely Disabled

Figure 8

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There is some correlation between the trends in the education levels of the disabled and the education levels of the nondisabled. The percentage of the nondisabled public lacking a high school diploma dropped from 1997 to 2010 by around 3 points, from 10.7% in 1997 to 8.8% in 2010. Individuals with moderate disabilities saw a similar 3-point drop, from 15% in 1997 to 11.7% in 2010. However, among individuals with severe disabilities, there was a much sharper 14-point drop, from 32.6% in 1997 to 18.4% in 2010. Likewise, the percentage of nondisabled individuals reporting at least some college experience grew by around 4 points over the 13-year period, from 30.1% in 1997 to 34.2% in 2010. The increase was similar for moderately disabled individuals, rising 6 points from 32.3% in 1997 to 38.5% in 2010. Individuals with a severe disability again saw a much more rapid increase of around 13 points, from 23.2% in 1997 to 35.9% in 2010. Educational attainment for severely disabled individuals improved at a much faster rate than it did for moderately disabled or nondisabled groups. This disparity indicates that some factor other than national trends was at work in improving education for the severely disabled.

Conclusion For members of any historically disadvantaged group, a sense of inclusion is a necessary prerequisite to social engagement. There must be a sense of inclusive belonging before there will be active participation in the society. As a result, this study considered data external to the disabled community in order to determine whether or not disabled individuals have become better protected and more welcome in American society over the past twenty-five years. Increasing rates of violent crime against disabled individuals over a four-year period did not correlate with a substantial increase in rates of violent crime against nondisabled individuals. This indicates that disabled individuals have not become better protected within American society, which is deeply problematic for the hypothesis that there has been a correlation between greater civic engagement and the implementation of the Americans with Disabilities Act. On the other hand, improvements in polling place accessibility indicated that the American political culture has become more welcoming for disabled individuals, a positive indicator for the hypothesis. For variables internal to the disabled community, religious service attendance trended downward for disabled Americans but also trended downward for nondisabled Americans. The downward trend is not as sharp for disabled Americans as it is for nondisabled Americans. This could perhaps indicate a greater affinity for religion among the disabled community, although further research must be done on the subject to confirm that conclusion. Multiple studies

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have shown that there is a strong link between religious activity and increased civic engagement (Campbell, 2008; Regular Voters). Thus stronger religious affinity could potentially indicate a greater inclusion in America’s civic community. Over the past several years, poverty rates have decreased, and employment rates, educational attainment, and voter turnout have all increased among the disabled community. Further research should be done to determine if these changes were due to an intervening variable. Like religious participation, poverty levels, employment rates, and educational attainment all correlate with an individual’s likelihood of engaging in civic activity (File, 2015). While external social factors show only some improvement, factors internal to the disabled community such as poverty levels and voter turnout all indicate that America is moving in the right direction. As the Americans with Disabilities Act celebrates her twenty-fifth anniversary, there is indication of a moderate correlation between the ADA’s implementation and long-term trends in disability inclusivity. In this new world, perhaps stories such as Governor Abbott’s will become more common.

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Fulton, C (2011). Web Accessibility, Libraries, and the Law. Information Technology & Libraries, 30(1), 34-43. Retrieved October 31, 2015 from h&AN=58478965&site=ehost-live Harrell, E (2011, November 1). Crime Against Persons with Disabilities: 20082010 Statistical Tables. Retrieved November 14, 2015, from http://www.bjs. gov/content/pub/pdf/capd10st.pdf Harrell, E (2014, February 1). Crime Against Persons with Disabilities: 2009– 2012 Statistical Tables. Retrieved November 14, 2015, from http://www.bjs. gov/content/pub/pdf/capd0912st.pdf Maroto, M., & Pettinicchio, D (2014). The Limitations of Disability Antidiscrimination Legislation: Policymaking and the Economic Well-being of People with Disabilities. Law & Policy, 36(4), 370-407. Retrieved October 31, 2015, from ct=true&db=aph&AN=108757875&site=ehost-live McNeil, J (2001, February 1). Americans with Disabilities: 1997. Retrieved November 13, 2015, from pdf Oschwald, M., Curry, M., Hughes, R., Arthur, A., & Powers, L (2011). Law enforcement’s response to crime reporting by people with disabilities. Police Practice and Research, 527-542. Retrieved November October 31, 2015, from h&AN=67344073&site=ehost-live Putnam, R.D., (1996). The Strange Disappearance of Civic America. The American Prospect, Winter 1996, 24. Retrieved November 15, 2015, from Raymond, C. L (2013). A Growing Threat to the ADA: An Empirical Study of Mass Filings, Popular Backlash, and Potential Solutions Under Titles II and III. Texas Journal On Civil Liberties & Civil Rights, 18(2), 235-264. Retrieved October 31, 2015, from aspx?direct=true&db=aph&AN=92613341&site=ehost-live

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Regular Voters, Intermittent Voters, and Those Who Don’t: Who Votes, Who Doesn’t, and Why (2006, October 18). Retrieved November 15, 2015, from Schur, L., & Adya, M (2012). Sidelined or Mainstreamed? Political Participation and Attitudes of People with Disabilities in the United States. Retrieved November 13, 2015, from SSQ-Article-on-Disability-and-Voter-Turnout.pdf Schur, L., & Adya, M (2013). Sidelined or Mainstreamed? Political Participation and Attitudes of People with Disabilities in the United States Sidelined or Mainstreamed? Political Participation and Attitudes of People with Disabilities in the United States. Social Science Quarterly (Wiley-Blackwell), 94(3), 811-839. Retrieved October 31, 2015 from http://search.ebscohost. =ehost-live Schur, L., & Kruse, D (n.d.). Fact Sheet: Disability and Voter Turnout in the 2008 Elections. Retrieved November 13, 2015, from Schur, L., Adya, M., & Kruse, D (2013, July 18). Disability, Voter Turnout, and Voting Difficulties. Retrieved November 13, 2015, from http://smlr.rutgers. edu/disability-and-voting-survey-report-2012-elections Scott, W. J., & Acock, A. C. (1979). Socioeconomic Status, Unemployment Experience, and Political Participation: A Disentangling of Main and Interaction Effects. Political Behavior, 1(4), 361–381. Retrieved October 31, 2015, from Search (n.d.). Retrieved November 15, 2015, from ada_intro.htm Steinmetz, E (2006, May 1). Americans with Disabilities: 2002. Retrieved November 13, 2015, from pdf The ADA, 20 Years Later (2010, July 1). Retrieved November 13, 2015, from

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Voters with Disabilities: Access to Polling Places and Alternative Voting Methods (2001, October 1). Retrieved November 13, 2015, from new.items/d02107.pdf Voters with Disabilities: Challenges to Voting Accessibility (2013, April 1). Retrieved November 13, 2015, from Wehman, P (2011). Employment for persons with disabilities: Where are we now and where do we need to go? Journal of Vocational Rehabilitation, 35(3), 145151. Retrieved October 31, 2015, from Wilhelmus, D. W (1996). Perspectives on the Americans with Disabilities Act: Accessibility of academic libraries to. Journal of Academic Librarianship, 22(5), 366. Retrieved October 31, 2015, from host-live

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Abstract In recent years, video games have been subjected to heightened scrutiny in the public sphere because of their possible correlation to increased violence - specifically, mass shootings. This study examines the correlation between violent video games and violent acts. Information from a wide array of fields, such as psychology, law, and entertainment, was consulted to reach a conclusion on the matter. Ultimately, this study finds that there is no causal connection between violent video games and violent crimes. However, violent video games are connected to acts of aggression, desensitization to violence, and a decrease in empathy. ___________________________________

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Introduction Anders Behring Breivik woke up on July 22, 2012, ready to enact years of training and intense planning. He walked out his door, placed bags of explosives in his windowless van, and drove to downtown Oslo, Norway. Before he stepped out of his vehicle, he meticulously dressed himself in a typical Norwegian police uniform and loaded Mjølnir—a handgun named after Thor’s hammer. As he walked away from his vehicle—parked under a government building—he calmly lit a long fuse and let it burn. He made sure no one noticed the sweat building near the brow of his forehead. Indeed, he seemed inconspicuous as he crawled into his getaway car and headed to the island of Utøya—his next target. While he was under a main bridge waiting his turn to merge with the expressway, Breivik watched police cars speed by him in the opposite direction. Phase one of his mission had gone off seamlessly. As he continued to drive, he looked to his passenger seat and placed his hand on a semi-automatic weapon that he would use to execute phase two of his mission (Seierstad, 2015). Phase two proceeded flawlessly. Breivik took the lives of 77 unsuspecting people. Although this mass shooting left many with feelings of hatred, disgust, and horror, the true tragedy began in the years leading up to that fateful day. Some say that Breivik’s training methods could have been curbed altogether, because he trained on a simulator owned by 100 million men, women, and children—Call of Duty: Modern Warfare (Pidd, 2012). After completing a few entrepreneurial projects and stashing his savings away in numerous bank accounts, Breivik thought it appropriate to take a wellearned sabbatical. Oddly, Breivik moved in with his mother and claimed upon his move-in that he would spend his year off playing on the computer. Reports estimate that Breivik spent upwards of 16 hours a day playing either Worlds of Warcraft or Call of Duty: Modern Warfare (Pidd, 2012). Breivik specifically mentions playing Call of Duty: Modern Warfare in his online manifesto as a way to train for mass killings (The Telegraph, 2011). In fact, that first-person shooter game allowed Breivik to train on a holographic aiming device—the same type used on July 22nd. Though it was a simulation, video games trained Breivik to develop “target acquisition.” Indeed, the deaths of 77 people attest to the deadliness of this training. Sadly, Anders Breivik is not an anomaly. While he is certainly not the only mass shooter in the history of western civilization, he is also not the only mass shooter to have utilized the simulations found in off-the-shelf first-person shooter games, as this study will discuss below. As technology progresses, so does the realness of video games. This has a tendency to create a reality-mirroring fantasy world that has the potential to desensitize young individuals to

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violence and other wrong acts. Unfortunately, on several occasions, individuals have crossed the wires of fantasy and reality. From Columbine, to Aurora, to Sandy Hook, to Norway, each forensic investigation discovered droves of violent video games in the homes of the killers. While many in the arena of public policy have jumped to the hasty conclusion that first-person shooter games have served as an impetus for heinous crimes, others in favor of the entertainment industry have viewed these games as a sort of fictitious punching bag that diverts true violent acts away from the public. This study examines the crucial question: do violent video games influence the psychological compositions of shooters in a manner that has a direct impact on their actions? This study hypothesizes that violent video games are one direct cause of violent crimes, including mass shootings.

Literature Review As the rate of mass shootings increases, politicians and lawmakers race to find salient causes behind these terror-ridden incidents. When individuals look at these incidents, they commonly blame either the perpetrator or the weapon, and regulation of both is warranted to prevent the further spread of mass shootings. However, because the mindset of the shooter has historically shown itself to be the genesis of any shooting, further research on the topic is imperative. Because an exhaustive analysis of violence and the human psyche would lend itself to a several volume work, this paper will analyze only one characteristic: violent video games. This study intends to demonstrate that video games are only one cause of violent shooting sprees. Indeed, as Doug Gentile observes, violent video games are not, and cannot be, the standalone culprit of these occurrences (Usher, 2013). Some authors argue that there is a strong correlation between violent video games and mass shootings. There is little dispute in the scientific community over the fact that violence in media can cause violence in real life. A 2009 study in the American Academy of Pediatrics claims that habitual violent video game playing causes increased, long-term, aggressive behavior (American Academy of Pediatrics, 2009). Indeed, habitual gaming does not only affect the behavior of a person, but it can also detrimentally impact the development of the mind, especially in children. This is precisely what Dr. Bushman (2015) found when studying video games and violent behavior in children. Bruce Barthelow, et. al (2011) concludes that simulated violence actively encourages participation in violence, both in the fantasy world and the real world. Justice Stephen Breyer, dissenting from a 7-2 decision in favor of the gaming community said that “the closer a child’s behavior comes, not to watching, but to acting out horrific violence, the greater the potential psychological harm” (Brown

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v. ESA, 2011). However, the Court decided that the causal link between violent minds and violent acts was too sporadic to regulate the entirety of the gaming industry. In 2015, the American Psychological Association conducted the largest, and perhaps most exhaustive, study on the topic, concluding that there are many risk factors for increased aggression, both in the mind and in the external world. Ultimately, they found that video games were one such risk factor. While they argued that virtual aggression caused actual acts of aggression, they could not demonstrate that violent video games caused violent acts like mass shootings. Craig Anderson notes, however, that violent video games are certainly one of many risk factors that lead to violent acts. Even with the rapid increase in the consumption of violent video games, actual violence and crime rates have dropped significantly (Markey, Markey, & French, 2014). There are two schools of thought that explain this. First, Christopher Ferguson (2015) and Katherine Newman (2008) conclude that the impact of video games on real world violence is so sporadic that a causal link cannot be established, especially in light of lower overall crime rates. Ferguson (2015) found that violent video games had no impact on hostility levels in teenagers. Newman (2008) of John Hopkins University observed that nearly 150 million people in America play video games and only a miniscule fraction of those consumers have become violent. In other words, there are other risk factors such as behaviors in the home, abuse, stress, and depression that have a higher chance of encouraging someone to commit a heinous crime. Another mainstream argument states that virtual reality allows violent impulses to escape through a harmless outlet. Indeed, the Journal of Adolescent Health (Olson et al. 2007) concluded that video games allow players to release their stress and anger in the game, leading to fewer instances of real world aggression. This also could explain the reciprocal relationship between video game sales and violence. Ultimately, the scientific consensus holds that while video games can cause violence, the link between the two is so sporadic and unpredictable that it cannot be seen as the sole culprit for mass shootings.

Data and Methods This study analyzes the links established between violent video games and actual violence. By examining previously compiled data, this study will establish a meta-analysis regarding the effects violent video games have on individuals. Additionally, an examination of historical case studies regarding mass shootings that involved video games will hopefully confirm or disconfirm a causal link between the two.

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Research A Brief History of Violence in Video Games In the wake of several major mass shootings, American policymakers have pointed to violence in video games as a possible cause. While video games have been under heightened scrutiny recently, violence in media has been under public scrutiny since the inception of violent media. According to the National Coalition Against Censorship (2012), games that even hinted at violent acts have been scrutinized for nearly 40 years. The first clash between the entertainment industry and concerned citizens occurred in 1976, when the controversial game “Death Race” was removed from store shelves because it involved little gremlins being run over by cars. By the 1990s, games like “Mortal Kombat,” “Night Trap,” and “Doom” were the first to feature lifelike, realistic violence between two or more virtual humans (NCAC, 2012). These games became so scrutinized that they were the focus of the 1993 Congressional Hearings on violence in video games (Suddath, 2010). These hearings lead to the creation of the Entertainment Software Rating Board (ESRB), an organization that ranks games based on the violent and sexual material in the game. The goal of the organization was to “provide concise and objective information about the content in video games and apps so consumers, especially parents, can make informed choices” (Entertainment Software Rating Board, 2015). The creation of a regulatory board did not quell the public’s concern about violence in media. Events in the late 1990s, including the Columbine Massacre, incited panic targeted at the types of video games used by the killers. “Doom,” the game directly involved in the Columbine Massacre, spurred several families of Columbine victims to file a federal lawsuit against 25 entertainment companies for allegedly causing the deaths (NCAC, 2012). The suit was dismissed in 2002. While there were several lawsuits pending against entertainment companies around the turn of the century, no appellant ever won (NCAC, 2012). While the trend of dismissal has remained fairly steady over the course of 40 years, there is no doubt that video games have become more violent and the rate of exposure to these video games has increased exponentially. According to a study on Media Violence conducted by the American Association of Pediatrics (2009), children between the ages of 8 and 18 spend an average of 6 hours and 21 minutes each day using entertainment media. Even children between the ages of 0 and 6 spend an average of almost 2 hours a day using screen media. On average, an 18-year-old American will have witnessed an estimated 200,000 acts of violence through the media. More than half of all video games contain violence, according

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to the ESRB rating program (Calvert, 2007). Even so, there are conflicting views as to the effects of the virtual violence. There are two main areas that video games have purported effects: empathy and aggression. If video games decrease empathy and increase aggression, they have the potential to do harm. If neither of these detrimental traits are caused by video games, then there should be no correlation between violent video games and acts of aggression like mass shootings. Psychological Effects of Violent Video Games Decreased sensitivity to violence, which leads to decreased empathy, creates a propensity for increased acts of violence (American Psychological Association, 2015). Several factors have the ability to corrode those vital characteristics of the human psyche. Research suggests that violence in media has the ability to be one such factor. It is important to note that the effects of playing violent video games differ from person to person. However, the aggregate effect of violent video games has decreased the empathy and sensitivity of nearly an entire generation. One study defined desensitization to violence as “a reduction in emotion-related physiological reactivity to real violence” (Carnagey, Anderson, & Bushman, 2006). Another study demonstrated that young people’s exposure to virtual violence impacted their response to depictions of real-life violence (Engelhardt, Bartholow, Kerr, & Bushman, 2011). University of Missouri professor Bruce Bartholow theorized that “the brains of gamers become less responsive to violence, which leads to an increase in aggression as the line between appropriate behavior and inappropriate behavior is blurred” (Kaiser, 2011). To test his hypothesis, Bartholow conducted several experiments in a laboratory setting with the following parameters: First, he randomly selected 70 young adult volunteers to play video games for 25 minutes. Some of the video games were violent, while others were not. After only 25 minutes of play time, the subjects were shown several pictures—some violent, others neutral. The researchers measured their brain’s responses. The subjects that did not play violent video games were more shocked by violent depictions than those that had just played violent games. Additionally, the subjects who had just played the video games were asked to participate in a one-on-one match with other participants. They were each given the opportunity to blast their opponent with potentially dangerous levels of noise. Those who had played the violent video games choose a louder noise level than those that had played the less violent games. While seemingly conclusive, this study lacks internal validity. The subjects could have already been avid players of violent video games, and the additional 25 minutes of game time in a laboratory setting may have not served as an impactful variable. Furthermore, there are other variables that could have been present. In

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addition to the problems with the internal validity of the study, a sample size of 70 respondents is not large enough to accurately represent the whole. Nonetheless, Bartholow still argues that “…video games encourage active participation in violence. From a psychological perspective, video games are excellent teaching tools because they reward players for engaging in certain types of behavior. Unfortunately, in many popular video games, the behavior is violence” (Kaiser, 2011). In a similar study, Carnagey, et. al (2006) found that video game violence has the potential to desensitize individuals to real-life violence. The researchers randomly selected 257 college students from a larger pool of applicants. The subjects were split into two groups: a control and experimental group. Before the introduction of any test variable, the researchers measured their heart rate and galvanic skin response for five minutes to obtain baseline numbers. The control group was then asked to play 20 minutes of nonviolent video games while the experimental group played violent video games. After this, the subjects were then measured again for their heart rate and galvanic skin response. During the final phase of the research project, the subjects were exposed to ten minutes of violent footage of actual events. These events included prison stabbings, police confrontations, and courtroom outbursts. While the subjects watched the footage, researchers measured their heart rates and galvanic skin responses. Those who had played nonviolent video games had a higher heart rate and higher galvanic skin response, while the violent video game players had significantly lower heart rates and galvanic skin responses. This study differs from the Michigan study in one key area: the researchers measured the responses relative to the study itself. To ensure control of intervening variables, this study used a pretest to get baseline numbers for sensitivity to violence. Those that had been selected to play the violent video games already had lower sensitivity to violence. However, the gap between the experimental group and the control group widened after the introduction of the test variable. The independent variable had a direct effect on the dependent variable. Violent video games have the capability to reduce empathy and desensitize players to violence. These two studies are simply a few of the many that unanimously show that an insidious and potent effect of media violence is to desensitize participants to real-life violence (American Academy of Pediatrics, 2009). Physical Effects of Violent Video Games Although the manifestation of violence differs from person to person, violent video games unquestionably cause an increase in aggressive behavior. However, several attempts have been made to prove the cathartic affect of violent video games. Supporters argue that if truly violent people have a virtual outlet to

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vent their anger, they will not act out publicly. Because violent video games have different effects on different people, two questions must be asked. First, do violent video games cause violent behavior? Second, can video games serve as an outlet for violent behavior? To the first question, meta-analysis on violent video games and physical aggression point to a strong relationship between the two. There are two seminal works in this field of scientific inquiry. According to the American Psychological Association’s task force on the correlation between violent video games and aggression, video games have the propensity to serve as one of many risk factors that lead to increased aggression (American Psychological Association, 2015). Additionally, the American Association of Pediatrics conducted a study that finds a causal link between violent video games and heightened aggression (American Academy of Pediatrics, 2009). These two studies support the argument that violence in media can blur the line between fantasy and reality. This occasionally results in bullying, desensitization to violence, fear, depression, nightmares, sleep disturbances, and more. Several studies have concluded that violence in media can induce longstanding violent characteristics if children are exposed to them (Anderson, Gentile, & Buckley, 2007). This link has been studied in over 2,000 individual research reports (Center on Media and Child Health). The American Academy of Pediatrics definitively points out the strength of the relationship between media violence and aggressive behavior by saying: It is greater than the association between calcium intake and bone mass, lead ingestion and lower IQ, and condom nonuse and sexually acquired HIV infection, and is nearly as strong as the association between cigarette smoking and lung cancer—associations that clinicians accept and on which preventative medicine is based without question (American Academy of Pediatrics, 2009). Children are mimetic creatures (American Academy of Pediatrics, 2009). They imitate what they know and abstract principles to apply to their lives. Defenders of violence in media suggest that children can notice the distinction between fact and fiction; however, research suggests otherwise. If children are exposed to abstract concepts at an age where they cannot distinguish rationally between fact and fiction, their perceptions of reality may become altered. Children often are not able to accurately discriminate between fantasy and reality until the age of eight years old (Flavell, 1986). If children are exposed to abstract concepts at an age where they cannot distinguish rationally between fact and fiction, their perceptions of reality may become altered.

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However, even adolescents over the age of eight have demonstrated the adverse effects of violent media consumption (Anderson, Gentile, & Buckley, 2007). Several longitudinal studies conducted in Germany, Finland, Japan, and the United States demonstrate that prolonged exposure to violent media results in aggressive behavior, aggressive thoughts, and decreased prosocial behavior (Anderson, Gentile, & Buckley, 2007; Anderson, Carnagey, Flanagan, Benjamin, Eubanks, & Valentine, 2008; Wallenius & Punamaki, 2008). The interactive, rewarding, stimulating experience found in violent video games creates the perfect environment to learn violence and embed those characteristics in the developing, mimetic mind of adolescents (Gentile, 2009). Advocates of the “catharsis hypothesis” point to the inverse correlation between video game sales and crime rates. Between 1994 and 2014, annual video game sales have increased by 204% (New Zoo, 2014). Accordingly, the violent U.S. Crime Rate has dropped significantly over that same time period. In fact, according to the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the aggregate crime rate has decreased to the level it was in the 1970s (Simpson, 2014). However, there is no scientific evidence that violent video games have a cathartic affect on the participant. The “catharsis hypothesis” has been tested several times in different settings and has been demonstrated to be false each time (American Academy of Pediatrics, 2009). There are other explanations for the inverse relationship between the increase in video game sales and the decrease in crime rates. First, the correlation between the two factors does not prove that one caused the other. Second, violent video games cause subtle aggressive tendnacies in children that parents would never report to the police and, thus, never be included in the crime index. This leads to further exploration regarding the link between violent video games and actual crimes, such as mass shootings. Violent Video Games and Mass Shootings Mass killings occur roughly every two weeks (USA Today, 2015). Of these murders, only 15% are public in nature. Public mass shootings have a unique nature because no one knows what causes them. In instances of family feuds or robberies gone awry—which make up 53% of all killings—the motives are clear. No such motive appears in the ever-increasing phenomena of the public carnage wrought by mass shootings. In an attempt to identify the nature of such events, researchers, politicians, and concerned citizens readily point to violent video games as the true culprit. While violent video games correlate with mass shootings, the connection is not demonstrably causal. To establish causality, three things must first be proven. First, an independent variable must have an impact on a dependent variable.

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Second, that occurrence must occur in a temporal sequence of events. Lastly, there can be no intervening variables that cause a change in the dependent variable (Gray, Williamson, Karp, & Dalphin, 2007). The independent variable in this research project is violent video games and the dependent variable is mass shootings. While the two can be correlated, and they tend to occur in a temporal sequence of events, there are other variables that can affect the mass shooter’s psyche, including a violent or abusive home-life, painful memories, mental illness, and more. While violent video games do increase the risk of violent crimes, they are not the only factor at play (American Psychological Association, 2015). Therefore, a causal relationship cannot be demonstrated.

Conclusion Violent video games and acts of violence or desensitization to violence are strongly connected (American Academy of Pediatrics, 2009; American Psychological Association, 2015; Anderson, Carnagey, Flanagan, Benjamin, Eubanks, & Valentine, 2008; Bushman & Anderson, 2009; Carnagey, Anderson, & Bushman, 2006). However, there is no scientific evidence to suggest a causal relationship between violent video games and mass public shootings (Office of the Surgeon General n.d.; American Psychological Association, 2015). While a causal relationship cannot be demonstrated, violent video games do create significant risk factors that, when combined with other factors, can lead to violent actions. Currently, there is little research on the link between violent video games and events like mass shootings. Because mass shooters illustrate a nearly unexplainable psychological phenomenon, further research must be done on the causes of their mental states. While it would obviously be very difficult to interview the culprits of mass shootings, circumstantial evidence can be gathered and linked in ways that point toward causality. Because violent video games appear in nearly every mass shooting that does not have a clear motive, researchers should conduct further studies on the varying affects violent media has on different types of people. Possible test groups could include children, young adults, individuals with prior criminal offenses, the mentally ill, and other groups that have significant risk factors when combined with violent video games. Such studies would further triangulate the causes of violent shooting sprees. The demand for further research on the topic increases with each new mass shooting, and it is time for researchers to match that demand.

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References American Academy of Pediatrics (November 1, 2009). Media Violence. Pediatrics.American Psychological Association (August 13, 2015). APA Task Force Report of Violent Media. Retrieved November 2, 2015 from American Psychological Association: technical-violent-games.pdf Anderson, C., Carnagey, N., Flanagan, M., Benjamin, A., Eubanks, J., & Valentine, J (2008). Longitudinal effects of violent video games on aggression in Japan and the United States. Pediatricts, 122 (5), 5. Anderson, D., Gentile, D., & Buckley, K (2007). Violent Video Game Effects on Children and Adolescents: Theory, Research, and Public Policy. New York, New York, US: Oxford University Press. Brown v. Entertainment Merchants Association, 08-1448 (US Supreme Court, June 27, 2011). Bushman, B. J., & Anderson, C. A (2009). Comfortably Numb: Desensitizing Effects of Violent Media on Helping Others. A Journal of The Association For Psychological Science, 20 (3). Bushman, B., Gollwitzer, M., & Cruz, C (2015). There is broad consensus: Media researchers agree that violent media increase aggression in children, and pediatricians and parents concur. Psychology of Popular Media Culture, 4 (3). Calvert, S (2007). Handbook on Children and Media. Boston, MA: Blackwell. Carnagey, N. L., Anderson, C. A., & Bushman, B. L (2006). The effect of video game violence on physiological desensitization to real-life violence. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 43 (1), 489-496. Center on Media and Child Health (n.d.). Nurturing Childrens Health and Development in Media-Rich Environments. Retrieved November 12, 2015, from Center on Media and Child Health: Cherl, O., Kutner, L., & Warner, D (2008). Journal of Adolescent Research. The Role of Violent Video Game Content in Adolescent Development, 23 (1), 5575.

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Ehrenfreund, M., & Goldfarb, Z. A (June 18, 2015). 11 essential facts about guns and mass shootings in the United States. Retrieved November 2, 2015 from The Washington Post: Engelhardt, C. R., Bartholow, B. D., Kerr, G. T., & Bushman, B. J (2011). This is your brain on violent video games: Neural desensitization to violence predicts increased aggression following violent video game exposure. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 47 (5). Entertainment Software Rating Board (2015). ESRB Ratings Guide. Retrieved November 11, 2015, from Entertainment Software Rating Board: http:// Ferguson, C. J (December 7, 2011). Video Games Don’t Make Kids Violent. Retrieved November 2, 2015 from TIME: video-games-dont-make-kids-violent/ Ferguson, C. J., & al, e (April, 2015). Violent Video Games Don’t Increase Hostility in Teens, but They Do Stress Girls out. Psychiatric Quarterly. Flavell, J (1986). The development of children’s knowledge about the appearancereality distinction. American Psychology, 41 (4), 418-425. Frith, M (August 3, 2013). ‘Grand Theft Auto’ Makers Sued Over Teen Killing. Retrieved October 28, 2015, from general41/grands.htm Gentile, D (2009). Pathological video-game use among youth ages 8-18: a national study. Psychological Science, 20 (5), 594-602. Grabmeier, J (October, 2014). “Broad Consensus” that Violent Media Increase Child Agression. Retrieved November 2, 2015 from The Ohio State University: Gray, P. S., Williamson, J. B., Karp, D. A., & Dalphin, J. R (2007). The Research Imagination: An Introduction to Qualitative and Quantitative Methods. New York, New York, US: Cambridge University Press. Grossman, D (n.d.). Conditioning Kids to Kill. Retrieved 2015 2-November from Killology:

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Jaccarino, M (September, 2013). Training Simulation: Mass Killers Often Share Obsession with Violent Video Games. Retrieved November 2, 2015 from Fox News: Kaiser, T (May 26, 2011). Study: Violent Video Games Desensitize Players, Cause Heightened Aggression. Retrieved November 5, 2015, from DailyTech: http:// Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence (October 5, 2015). The President is Right: Thoughts and Prayers Are Not Enough? Retrieved November 2, 2015 from Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence: Markey, P. M., Markey, C. N., & French, J. E (August 18, 2014). Violent Video Games and Real-World Violence: Rhetoric Versus Data. Psychology of Popular Media Culture. Mary Ellen O’Toole, P (1999). The School Shooter: A Threat Assessment Perspective. Retrieved November 2, 2015 from FBI: http://videogames. National Coalition Against Censorship (2012). A Timeline of Video Game Controversies. Retrieved November 10, 2012, from National Coalition Against Censorship: National Issues Forum (2014). How Can We Stop Mass Shootings in Our Communities? Retrieved November 2, 2015 from Natioanl Issues Forum: community.pdf Newman, K. S (2008). Rampage: The Social Roots of School Shootings. New Zoo (2014). Global Games Market will reach $102.9 Billion in 2017. Retrieved November 10, 2015, from insights/global-games-market-will-reach-102-9-billion-2017-2 Office of the Surgeon General (n.d.). Youth Violence: A Report of the Surgeon General. From pubmed/20669522

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Olson, C., & al, e (July, 2007). Factors Correlated with Violent Video Game use by Adolescent Boys and Girls. Journal of Adolescent Health. Pew Research Center (September 16, 2008). Major new study shatters sterotypes about teens and video games. Retrieved November 2, 2015 from PewResearchCenter: Internet, Science & Tech: http://www.pewinternet. org/2008/09/16/major-new-study-shatters-stereotypes-about-teens-andvideo-games/ ProCon (October 23, 2015). Do Violent Video Games Contribute to Youth Violence? Retrieved 2015 2-November from http://videogames. Simpson, I (2014, November 10). Violent U.S. crime drops again, reaches 1970s level: FBI. Retrieved November 10, 2015, from Reuters: http://www.reuters. com/article/2014/11/10/us-usa-crime-fbi-idUSKCN0IU1UM20141110#Ibp 8VQQi3DPKrDI0.97 Suddath, C (2010, May 10). Brief History: Video-Game Violence. Retrieved November 10, 2015, from TIME: article/0,9171,1985999,00.html USA Today (2015, November). Behind the Bloodshed. Retrieved November 2, 2015, from USA Today: Usher, W (2013). Report Ties Real Life Mass Killings With Video Game Violence. Retrieved November 2, 2015 from CinemaBlend: Utøya Wallenius, M., & Punamaki, R (2008). Digital game violence and direct aggression in adolescnece: a longitudinal study of the roles of sex, age, and parent-child communication. Journal of Applied Development Psychology, 29 (4), 286-294.

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THE FEASIBILITY OF ROAD USER FEES AND OTHER ALTERNATIVE SOURCES OF TRANSPORTATION FUNDING Joshua Amberg Abstract The nation faces an approaching crisis in transportation funding. This critical issue is both relevant and essential to public administration. It affects all levels of government and extends across the nation. Rapidly declining sources of transportation funding pose short-term and long-term challenges for politicians, public administrators, and everyday citizens. In the face of inadequate revenues, new forms of funding are necessary to keep the transportation system solvent. This study will briefly outline the history of transportation funding and examine various proposed solutions, focusing specifically on the emerging theory of road user fees. The philosophical principles of road user fees will be discussed along with specific policy proposals that embody them, such as the vehicle miles traveled fee (VMT-F). The study will assess both the strengths and weaknesses of the VMT-F, along with various other alternative methods of transportation funding. The study will conclude with recommendations for further research that may help secure adequate transportation funding sources for the future. ___________________________________

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Introduction Transportation and infrastructure funding remain key issues for public administrators at all levels of government. An aging infrastructure requires ongoing maintenance and attention. Increased mobility and a growing population place further strain on existing transportation systems and necessitate future expansion. This growing demand, coupled with a rise in fuel-efficient vehicles, renders current levels of fuel taxes insufficient. Federal, state, and local levels of government are currently searching for new revenue mechanisms to supplement transportation funding. This study evaluates the feasibility of alternative methods of transportation funding, focusing specifically on the emergent theory of road user fees. After outlining general philosophical principles behind road user fees, the study will specifically examine road user fees in the context of a vehicle mileage traveled fee, hereafter known as a VMT-F. This discussion will focus on the challenges of gaining political acceptance for a vehicle mileage tax as well as methods of implementation. A brief overview of the principles behind the theory of road user fees will aid in evaluating specific policy proposals such as a VMT-F. Road user fees have accrued academic support for a number of reasons. First, they are considered more direct than tax increases (Scribner, 2014). Broad tax increases are blunt policy instruments. They target the general population as a whole. General tax increases indiscriminately spread the tax burden over the entire tax base without regard for usage rates. User fees are more precise policy instruments. They charge according to usage rate and focus on the tax burden according to participation. The amount paid depends on participation in the taxed activity. Those who use roads more will be charged more. Those who use roads less will be charged less. This system is more equitable than a general tax increase. User fees also provide transparency and are linked to incentives. General tax increases are often complex and complicated. Their byzantine structure and lack of precision can cloud the link between incentives and financial payment. User fees provide clarity. They directly link usage to financial payment. This clarity allows users to easily understand charges and adjust consumption behavior according to the financial incentives. If the benefit derived from participating in the taxed activity outweighs the cost of the user fees then the individual will participate. If it does not, then the individual can pursue substitutes and alternative courses of action. Either way, user fees are easily understandable and allow for users to weigh the costs and benefits. Having discussed user fees in the abstract, let us turn to a specific examination of the VMT-F.

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VMT-F The concept of a VMT-F is simple. There would be a set rate per vehicle mile traveled, and the amount of vehicle miles traveled by an individual would be tracked. At the end of a set period, each individual would be charged a total fee based on the amount of miles they travel. This proposed policy measure shares the same benefits as a user fee. It charges those who participate the most in the taxed activity. In this case, those would drive more inflict more wear and tear on transportation infrastructure. They contribute a greater share of damage than others would drive less. The VMT-F would directly charge on the amount of use and damage inflicted on roads. It has the advantage of demonstrating the true cost of traveling a mile to drivers. The VMT-F presents itself as an alternative source of transportation funding. Currently, federal and state fuel taxes serve as the primary method of transportation funding. Before discussing the transportation funding situation further, it is important to briefly examine the relevant literature concern this topic. Doing so will provide context and demonstrate why alternative sources of funding are even necessary.

Literature Review The nation faces a transportation funding crisis at all levels of government, but particularly at the national level. Basso & Duvall (2013) examine the issue of transportation funding specifically from a federal point of view. They outline the current problems facing transportation funding at a national level. The Federal Highway Trust Fund, the primary funding mechanism for the national highway system, was projected to enter the negative realm in 2015. It received a 51.9 billion transfer from the General Fund to avoid fund depletion in January 2016. This poses a major problem for intergovernmental relations. State and local governments often rely on federal grants for transportation funding when dealing with highways. Problems with federal funding reverberate to the lower levels of government. In response, the National Employment Law Project proposes several solutions at the federal level. Solutions often favored by states include raising the gas tax and levying general sales tax funds for transportation costs. However, these measures are regressive and can be disproportionately burdensome to low-income workers (Christman, 2013). For this reason, the National Employment Law Project proposes three different methods that include variants of road user fees. These methods are VMT-Fs, Congestion Fees, and Parking Fees. Pilot programs indicate that VMT’s are less regressive and would have an annu-

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al tax burden of less than twenty dollars for 98% of the population. Congestion fees could lower the bill for maintaining the highway system by forty billion dollars. Parking fees could help public transit job creation and lower automotive emissions. These targeted fees have garnered academic support for their comparative precision. The Competitive Enterprise Institute contends that user fees are more direct and efficient than tax increases. Additionally, they provide data that indicates user fees are more politically feasible than alternative funding methods such as tax increases (Scribner, 2014). They cite the University of California Transportation Center, which argues that user fees are more transparent and less regressive than tax increases (Schweitzer & Taylor, 2010). The Tax Foundation reviews historical data and points out the limitations of both user fees and tax increases. It raises implementation concerns by showing that both these mechanisms can currently only account for half of transportation expenditures (Henchman, 2014). Additionally, transportation expenditures are projected to increase significantly in the coming years. The Tax Foundation also addresses concerns about funding road transportation costs from the general revenue fund. Doing so can result in problematic incentives such as free-riding that can increase congestion and costs. The study compares data from differing states and analyzes the various approaches utilized. When evaluating proposals, it is always important to keep long-term implications in mind. The RAND Corporation examines several unique trends that will affect the future. For example, improving fuel economy in the automobile industry poses challenges for gasoline taxes, which are based on fuel consumption (Ecola & Sorenson & Wachs, 2012). Government officials must find alternative methods of funding in the face of the instability that threatens traditional funding sources. The RAND Corporation offers mileage-based fees as a more stable source of funding because they charge fees based on mileage traveled instead of fuel consumption. Additionally, user-based fees could have cheaper implementation costs. However, a series of studies by the Texas A&M Transportation Institute address a host of issues regarding transportation funding and user fees. This includes the use of performance measurement to include air quality and energy usage into mileage-based user fees (Baker & Farzaneh & Goodin & Novak, 2012). Further research addresses specific implementation challenges such as technology and institutional issues. A case study of VMT-F’s in Texas provides some concrete evidence of user-based fees will work in reality (Baker & Goodin, 2011). Perhaps the most informative article that documented both theory and case studies was Duncan & Graham’s (2013) Road User Fees Instead of Fuel Taxes: The Quest for Political Acceptability, which provided a wealth of technical information and data utilized in this study.

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Findings When discussing an issue as complex as transportation funding, it is important to understand the context of the situation. Therefore, this study will briefly address the history of transportation funding mechanisms. The impact of recent trends in regulation, technology, and consumer preferences on transportation funding will be taken into account. The study will then transition to an overview of various policy options for transportation funding. The advantages and disadvantages of all the options will be discussed. We will conclude with further recommendations for research in the arena of transportation funding. Overview of Transportation Funding History The Federal Aid Highway Act of 1956 authorized the construction of the Interstate Highway System (FHWA, 2015). The objective of the Interstate Highway System was to create an integrated transportation system that spread across the nation. The benefits of this system to our economy and national defense are considerable. However, creating, constructing, and maintaining this massive transportation infrastructure requires copious amounts of funding. Originally, the Interstate Highway System was financed out the U.S. Treasury’s General Fund. However, the ongoing demands and expansion of the transportation system soon required more sophisticated and detailed mechanisms of funding. The Highway Revenue Act of 1965 created the Highway Trust Fund. Run by the federal government, this served as a designated funding mechanism for the National System of Interstate and Defense Highways. It played a crucial role in providing a stable source of funding for transportation infrastructure improvements. One of the most influential programs it financed was the Federal-Aid Highway Program. The Federal-Aid Highway Program acted as an intergovernmental funding mechanism. It promoted top-down sharing of funds for transportation purposes. The Federal-Aid Highway Program specifically resulted in the proliferation of categorical grants from the federal government to lower levels of government (Duncan & Graham, 2013). These categorical grants served as the primary funding mechanism for state construction and maintenance of the highway system. The rapidly expanding scope of the transportation system inevitably resulted in new problems and obstacles. The growing complexity of the financing system posed new challenges for state and local governments seeking to properly utilize the federal funds. Restrictions placed on aid hampered efforts to direct funding to areas of need. To rectify this, Congress enacted the Federal-Aid Highway Act of 1973.

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The Federal-Aid Highway Act of 1973 sought to address concerns and complaints regarding the restrictions placed on federal aid funds. Specifically, it authorized greater flexibility in the use of Urban System Funds. Many officials began to use the designated Urban System Funds for exploratory mass transit projects. As this trend continued, more and more funds became utilized in areas of mass transit. Eventually, the Highway Trust Fund was spilt into two accounts. Established in 1982, the smaller Mass Transit Account was dedicated specifically towards mass transit projects. The Highway Trust Account remained dedicated to road construction. A third and final spilt occurred in 1986 with the establishment of the Leaking Underground Storage Tank Trust Fund. Designed to address petroleum releases from federally regulated underground storage tanks, the fund was later expanded to include prevention techniques. The final arrangement of the Highway Trust Fund is broken down into three parts: the Highway Account, the Mass Transit Account, and the Leaking Underground Storage Tank Account. Current Funding Transportation Mechanisms Currently, all three accounts receive funding primarily from the federal motor vehicle fuel tax. State transportation funds often receive funding from similar state fuel taxes. The federal motor vehicle fuel tax has a system of multiple rates that vary according to fuel type (Duncan & Graham, 2013). Gasoline and other blends of gasohol are taxed at a rate of 18.4 cents per gallon. Diesel is taxed at a higher rate of 24.4 cents per gallon. Various other special fuels are taxed at rates ranging from 9.15 cents per gallon to 13.6 cents per gallon. While the motor vehicle fuel tax comprises the vast majority of revenue, it does not account for all funding. Approximately 10 percent of the Highway Account revenue comes from excise taxes on the purchase of tires, heavy trucks, trailers, and an annual heavy vehicle tax. However, these funding mechanisms have proven inadequate over the last several years. Inadequate Sources of Revenue The last decade has produced conclusive evidence regarding the adequacy of current federal funding mechanisms for the Highway Trust Fund. Both the Government Accountability Office and the Congressional Budget Office estimated declining balances and fund depletion given current revenue rates. Federal law mandates that the Highway Trust Fund cannot have a negative balance. As revenue from the motor vehicle fuel tax has declined, the Highway Trust Fund has been forced to rely on transfers from the U.S. Treasury’s

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General Fund. In 2011 alone, the Highway Trust Fund had a deficit of 8 billion dollars (Duncan & Graham, 2013). The total amount of funds transferred from the U.S. Treasury’s General Fund to the Highway Trust Fund since 2008 totals over 65 billion dollars. Congress has relied on a series of stopgap funding plans to prevent funding lapses, the most recent of which was passed in January of 2016. The declining revenue from the federal motor vehicle tax is attributed to a combination of technological and regulatory trends. First, technological advances in fuel efficiency have substantially decreased the revenue obtained from the federal motor vehicle tax, with the end result that they inflict greater damage on roadways while requiring less fuel to do so. Therefore, revenue for repairs is declining while road usage is remaining constant or even rising. Second, regulatory trends are reinforcing the advancement of fuel efficiency trends at both the federal and state level. The federal government has raised passenger vehicle mileage standards from around 25 miles per gallon to more than 50 miles per gallon by 2025 (Duncan & Graham, 2013). Additionally, the federal government has regulated commercial trucks to achieve gains in fuel efficiency. Some states have also adopted similar regulatory directives. For example, California has required that at least 15 percent of vehicles sold in state run on electricity or achieve zero fuel emissions. These regulatory trends have further incentivized the automotive industry to pursue fuel efficiency. Fuel efficiency trends appear poised to dominate the future, which will further harm the motor vehicle tax’s revenue raising capability unless the current structure is changed. The evidence clearly demonstrates the instability of the current funding mechanism structure and the need for changes. Proposed Policy Solutions The need for increased transportation funding and revenue is not going anywhere. The federal government spends nearly 40 billion dollars per year, while the federal motor vehicle tax revenues raises nearly 27 billion per year in revenue, leaving an approximately 13 billion dollar shortfall. Additionally, the U.S. Department of Transportation estimates that merely maintaining the current level of highway performance would require 54 billion dollars per year (Duncan & Graham, 2013). Note that this is a minimal standard which only concerns maintenance. It does not account for any expansions or improvements. Three key policy proposals have surfaced to address this need. They are General Funding Financing, Fuel Tax Increases and Indexation, and VMT-F. We will examine the advantages and disadvantages of each proposed policy method individually.

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Criterion of Evaluation Before evaluating the various policy proposals, it is necessary to establish a set of criteria that we can use to judge our options. We will rely on Adam Smith’s canons of taxation, recognized as an essential part of economic tradition. They are accepted and generally relied upon by scholars in fields such as economics and public administration, and they include adequacy, equity, simplicity, and efficiency. A well-constructed taxing system should strive for adequacy of revenue, equity of tax burden, administrative simplicity, and economic efficiency. Having established the criterion of evaluation, we will now proceed to examine the various policy proposals. General Fund Financing There is no denying that General Fund financing has played an integral role in transportation funding. As stated earlier, transfers from the U.S. Treasury Fund have totaled over 65 billion dollars since 2008. General Fund financing is also very common at the state and local levels of government. Overall, approximately half of combined federal, state, and local spending on highways comes from General Fund financing. It has many advantages, particularly at the state and local level. Because it comes directly from the General Fund, it is in competition with other programs for financing. This forces budget proposals to be competitive and efficient. It also forces legislators to make explicit trade-offs with other priorities. More importantly, General Fund financing is both quick and easy. It can cover an unexpected rise in one-time expenditures and provide the necessary fiscal power for capital projects. General Fund financing is a useful complementary funding mechanism. The danger comes when an overreliance on General Fund financing develops and it becomes a primary funding mechanism. This can happen at the state, local, or federal level. However, the costs and differences in revenue are much greater at the federal level and this tends to exacerbate the drawbacks. An overreliance on General Fund financing as a primary funding mechanism has several major disadvantages. General Fund financing is not a dedicated source of funding, meaning the funds are not specifically reserved for transportation purposes. This means that the primary source of funding for transportation is not stable. It is subject to changes and unforeseen circumstances that can drastically affect other areas and divert funding away from transportation. For example, a focusing event such as a natural disaster could divert massive amounts of funding toward relief efforts and away from transportation. Instability and uncertainty in funding is always troublesome, but it is particularly worrying for transportation planning. Transportation planning almost always involves long-range planning. Capital projects

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take years to complete. Planning must take demographics into account and see years into the future to prepare for increased traffic, congestion, and growth. Instability in financing severely hampers the effectiveness of such long-range planning. This poses an additional problem at the federal level. The poor fiscal state of the federal government makes any reliance on long-term contributions from General Fund financing risky, to say the least. When applying the canons of taxation, General Fund financing earns a mixed review. It can provide adequate revenue at times. However, the instability and poor fiscal state of the federal government and various state governments call the continued adequacy of revenue into question. At the federal level, simply continuing to transfer money from the U.S. Treasury General Fund is not a sustainable, long-term plan. General Funding financing also raises concerns regarding equity. Because it eliminates any sort of user charge fee, General Fund financing indiscriminately charges everyone the same amount. Low-mileage and high-mileage users pay the same amount regardless of usage. Someone who rarely uses the highway system and inflicts minimal wear and tear will pay as much as someone who constantly uses it. Aside from outright equity concerns, this type of indiscriminate charging can cause problems with incentives. General Fund financing lowers the perceived cost of driving a mile. This will likely increase usage. Increased usage results in more wear and tear. More wear and tear results in the need for greater amounts of funding. User fees control these incentives because they charge according to usage and provide a more accurate cost of driving a mile. General Fund financing lacks this precision and accuracy. With regards to administrative simplicity, General Fund financing does well. It is quick and easy to administer. In fact, when compared with a tiered motor vehicle fuel tax or user charge road fees it may be the simplest of all. However, one must judge its simplicity against the other problems it causes with adequacy of revenue, equity and incentives. Finally, we must judge General Fund financing according to economic efficiency. This presents several problems. Distorting the true cost of driving a mile and indiscriminately charging everyone the same amount can promote perverse economic incentives. However, the administrative simplicity does mean General Fund financing does earn some points for economic efficiency. Overall, inadequacy of funding, lack of equity, and creation of perverse economic incentives makes the use of General Fund financing as a primary funding mechanism highly questionable. It can serve as a useful complementary measure for unique instances where it is needed. However, it should not be relied upon as a primary funding mechanism in the future.

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Increased Fuel Tax Rates and Indexation As the last decade has shown, the current iteration of both federal and state motor vehicle taxes have failed to keep pace with transportation funding needs and provide adequate revenue. However, this does not mean that the motor vehicle fuel tax structure as a whole is inadequate. Increasing fuel tax rates and marking rates for indexation has several advantages that make it eligible to serve as a primary funding mechanism for transportation funding. Raising motor vehicle fuel tax rates could provide adequate short-term revenue. However, there are serious concerns regarding the adequacy of long-term revenue. The central flaw with using motor vehicle fuel tax rates and indexation is that it does not account for the growing trend of fuel efficiency. As demonstrated earlier, fuel efficiency is an undeniable trend in the automotive industry that is also mandated and incentivized by the federal government. High fuel efficiency vehicles will continue to proliferate in the near future. They represent a high one-time fixed cost for consumers, followed by years of low marginal costs. Increasing trends in the automotive industry and regulatory trends within federal and certain state governments will also incentive consumers. High fuel efficiency vehicles will continue to utilize highways and increase damage without providing commensurate additions to highway revenues. Therefore, this policy option raises serious concerns about adequate long-term revenue generating capability. Increased fuel tax rates earn positive marks from an equity perspective. It avoids blind and indiscriminate charges. Those who use the road more will use more gas and therefore pay more. Additionally, fuel tax rate infrastructure is already in place. Consumers are accustomed to operating under it and an administrative system already exists. Raising the rates would incur little cost in terms of administrative simplicity. The tiered taxing structure for different kinds of fuel adds some complexity, but overall it performs well. Therefore, increased fuel tax rates and indexation earns positive marks under the canons of equity and administrative simplicity. Increasing fuel tax rates and marking them for indexation earns mixed reviews with regard to economic efficiency. The tiered tax rate structure has performed decently well, but increasing rates raises some concerns. Taxing an activity creates an incentive to avoid that activity. This could be beneficial if companies seek alternative means of transportation such as freight or air travel. However, if alternative means are not cheaper then increasing fuel taxes could harm businesses, especially small businesses. With regard to consumers, the fuel tax is regressive and raising rates could disproportionately affect low-income people.

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Fuel tax rates are currently unmarked for indexation. Indexing the fuel tax rates would have several benefits. It would avoid the distortion and perverse economic incentives created by General Fund financing. Indexing would maintain purchasing power and demonstrate the rising costs of maintaining roadways. This would remove distortion caused by General Fund financing and provide drivers with an accurate cost of driving a mile. It would attempt to keep funding levels commensurate with increasing costs of transportation construction and repairs. Once again, this ability is limited by increasing fuel efficiency trends. A quick note on the political aspect of increasing fuel tax rates and marking them for indexation: a review of political history shows that voting for fuel tax increases is very rare, particularly at the federal level. There have only been four major changes to the federal motor vehicle fuel tax rate in its entire 80 year history (Duncan & Graham, 2013). Changes have occurred more frequently at the state level, but overall politicians and legislators have been recalcitrant to vote for fuel tax increases. This is a serious concern when discussing fuel tax increases. It does not appear politically palatable, and may not occur until a crisis or focusing event rallies popular support. A partial solution appears in the form of indexation. Indexation has the added advantage of not requiring politicians to continually vote for tax increases. Therefore, pursuing indexation first may be a wise political step. Overall, increasing the motor vehicle fuel tax rates and marking them for indexation appears to be a good short-term option. It should be noted that the U.S. Chamber of Commerce has endorsed this method. While there are some concerns about political feasibility, it performs fairly well under the canons of taxation. It can provide adequate short-term revenue, it is more equitable than General Fund Financing, and it has an already existing administrative structure. Concerns arise when considering economic efficiency and long-term adequacy of revenue. The main concern with using it as a primary funding mechanism is its inability to keep up with the growing trend of fuel efficiency. This inability poses serious concerns about its viability as a long-term option. VMT-F Implementation As discussed earlier, the VMT-F works like a road user charge. While the general benefits of a user charge have already been outlined, we must first examine several implementation methods before offering a final conclusion. There are two prominent implementation methods for the VMT-F. There is a high-tech method and a low-tech method. We will discuss each in turn before evaluating them according to the canons of taxation.

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High-Tech Implementation High-tech implementation is the most accurate, most expensive, and most costly iteration of the vehicles miles traveled fee. It would center on using a global positioning system, otherwise known as a GPS. Data could be recorded in a variety of ways. First of all, data could be transferred directly from the GPS via satellite or wireless technology to the responsible agency. The agency would then compile a statement and send it to a driver. This report could be monthly, semi-annually, or annually. Privacy is a main concern of the GPS method. A second major concern is that this method would require the installation of GPS devices in all automotive vehicles at a high cost. Secondly, the VMT-F could be read and assessed at a gas station similar to the current fuel tax. This method has been used in various pilot studies sponsored by the state of Oregon (Duncan & Graham, 2013). This method requires gas station operators to purchase the proper technology to read and assess the VMT-F. A third option would assess the VMT-F at the DMV when owners renew their vehicle registration tag. This would require state DMV’s to invest in the proper technology and staffing to carry out this operation. Several major disadvantages accompany all of the high-tech implementation methods. They all require tamper-proof devices to be professionally installed in cars. They also all require costly new infrastructure to read data, store it, and bill drivers. For example, in Oregon it would cost 33 million in capital costs and an additional 1.6 million annually in operating costs (Duncan & Graham, 2013). The costs for a large state such as New York are 1.44 billion in capital costs (Duncan & Graham, 2013). A second major concern involves privacy. The government would require the number and location of miles driven to facilitate tolls and congestion areas. This would undoubtedly engender political resistance. Low-Tech Implementation A low-tech system aims to address cost and privacy concerns. It would replace technological monitoring with self-reporting and visual inspection. The fee would be assessed based on the physical odometer and read at the DMV when tags are renewed. Obviously, defenses against tampering would be required as well as a physical inspection. Auto service centers are already required to collect mileage information and could provide this data to the agency. This data could be used to create profile histories of drivers that would establish a baseline between expected fees and reported fees. Additionally, a random auditing mechanism would be required to minimize cheating. An analogy to this system is the personal income tax (Duncan & Graham, 2013). Both rely upon self-reporting

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combined with audit mechanisms to ensure compliance. The actual cost of implementing a low-tech system would be relatively low. Mileage data is already collected by the DMV, authorized auto centers, and dealer such as CARFAX. However, concerns about administrative simplicity remain.

Conclusion and Further Research VMT-F have an admittedly mixed record when evaluated according to the canons of taxation. They undoubtedly could provide adequate short-term and long-term revenue. Assuming the total amount of miles traveled stays relatively constant, a tax of $0.018 per vehicle miles traveled would result in an annual tax bill of 360 dollars for the average household (Duncan & Graham, 2013). This would satisfy the 54 billion per year needed to maintain current infrastructure and substantially eclipse the 27 billion currently produced by the fuel tax. Most importantly, it would move in the same direction as fuel efficiency trends and continue producing long-term adequate amounts of revenue. As a user fee it would be more equitable than the other methods and would directly correlate cost with road usage. Currently fuel-efficient vehicles inflict the same amount of damage as other but pay less. A VMT-F would correct this inequality. Concerns arise when considering administrative simplicity and economic efficiency. Mileage data is already recorded and has an existing infrastructure. However, high-tech implementation would require professional installation of GPS devices and additional processing capabilities. This would entail high fixed costs of infrastructure as well as additional staff. Both raise serious concerns about economic efficiency and administrative simplicity. Low-tech implementation raises different concerns in the same areas. The processing and auditing mechanisms raise concerns about administrative simplicity. The administrative growth and potential for cheating threaten economic efficiency. These potential difficulties should not preclude VMT-Fs from being considered a viable policy option. Of the three options considered, it alone provides long-term adequate funding. General Fund financing works as a complementary measure but not as a primary funding mechanism. Higher fuel tax rates and indexation hold promise as a short-term measure. However, that solution is constrained by its inability to match fuel-efficiency trends and provide adequate long-term revenue. In addition to the canons of taxation, VMT-F’s pose privacy concerns. These privacy concerns impact political feasibility. An area of further research is examining the potential of third-party reporting to alleviate privacy concerns. Private companies already collect mileage data and this has achieved relative public acceptance. Looking at utilizing these companies as third-party reports from data on VMT-F is an interesting area of further research.

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References Baker, R., & Farzaneh, R., & Goodin, G,. & Novak, K (2012). Use of performance measurement to include air quality and energy into mileage-based user fees. research/ Texas A&M Transportation Institute. Baker, R., & Goodin, G (2011). Exploratory study: vehicle mileage fees in Texas. research/ Texas A&M Transportation Institute. Baker, R., & Bomberg, M., & Goodin, G (2009). An assessment of technology issues. research/ Texas A&M Transportation Institute. Baker R., & Goodin, G,. & Taylor L (2009). An assessment of institutional issues. research/ Texas A&M Transportation Institute. Basso, J., & Duvall, T (2013). Funding transportation infrastructure with user fees. The Brookings Institute. Christman, A (2013). You get what you pay for: user fees and the financing of U.S. Transportation Infrastructure. Report-Financing-Transportation-Infrastructure-User-Fees.pdf. National Employment Law Project. Ducan, D., & Graham., J (2013). Road user fees instead of fuel taxes: the quest for political acceptability. Public Administration Review Volume 73, Number 3. Ecola, L., & Sorenson, P., & Wachs, M (2012). Mileage-based user fees for transportation funding. TL100/TL104/RAND_TL104.pdf Henchman, J (2014). Gasoline taxes and user fees pay for only half of state and local road spending. Tax Foundation.

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Schweitzer, L., & Taylor, B (2010). Just road pricing. access36-justpricing.pdf. University of California Transportation Center. Scribner, M (2014). Public still favors transportation user fees over tax increases. Smith, A (1776). The wealth of nations. Book 5, Chapter 2.

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Abstract The United States is commonly described as a nation of immigrants, with a long history of welcoming foreign people groups into the “melting pot” of American society. However, arriving to the United States is only the first part of an immigrant’s story; the process of assimilating into a host nation takes decades and often spans generations. In light of the recent immigration of refugees into Western countries, it is important for countries like the United States to understand the factors impacting assimilation—economic, cultural, and civic. This study examines the impact that periods of economic recession have on the assimilation of immigrants into the United States through both qualitative and quantitative methods. This study finds that recessions impacted economic—but neither cultural nor civic—assimilation. ___________________________________

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Introduction “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,” reads the famous poem that greeted masses of Europeans as they flocked to the United States; this country still proudly bears the name “the land of immigrants.” We speak of “the melting pot” and the blending of multiple cultures into American society. However, entering the United States is only the beginning of an immigrant’s journey; the process of immigration must involve assimilation into the host nation. Political, economic, and cultural factors play important and sometimes defining roles in immigrant assimilation. After the passage of the Immigration and Naturalization Act of 1965, the United States experienced its fourth great wave of immigration, raising its first-generation immigrant total to 41.3 million, around 13% of the population (Batalova and Zong, 2015). Over 25% of Americans are either first or second generation immigrants. However, scholars recognize that allowing immigrant’s entry into the United States is only the beginning of a long process of assimilation into its economic, civic, and cultural landscape. It is, therefore important to understand the different factors that contribute to assimilation. This allows for a better understanding of the immigrant experience and policies that help immigrants contribute to American society. Few things impact day-to-day life for any American more than an economic recession; this holds true for immigrants as well. Such recessions often cause political, cultural, and social changes, heavily affecting the immigrant population. Therefore, it is important to examine whether a link exists between economic recessions and changes in immigrant assimilation. That is the purpose of this study. Most immigrants come to the United States for better economic opportunities and mobility, which are both disrupted by periods of recession. Additionally, immigrants have been poorly received during periods of national hardship like economic recessions. Thus, this paper hypothesizes that immigrant assimilation will decrease during recessions because of the general decrease in economic opportunities and mobility and increased anti-immigrant sentiment.

Literature Review The Pew Center’s study “Second Generation Americans” demonstrates that there is a general trend of assimilation in the U.S (Taylor, et. al, 2013). However, a recession could disrupt this trend. Economic assimilation requires mobility and flexibility in the labor market. When the labor market is disrupted, economic assimilation is adversely affected (Jiminez et. al, 2005). However, the impact on cultural and civic assimilation is not as clear.

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One theory holds that recessions increase the overall rates of economic, cultural, and social assimilation. Jacob Vigdor (2013) concludes that recessions have a significant impact on the demographic makeup and assimilation of immigrants. He demonstrates that economic recessions, while temporarily decreasing rates of economic assimilation, result in greater rates of cultural and civic assimilation. Because of this, when the economy recovers, immigrants are more assimilated after the recession than prior to it. John Steinberg (1989) provides a possible explanation for this phenomenon, arguing that most ethnic groups are willing to compromise ethnic pluralism for economic security. A recession, because it decreases chances of economic mobility, incentivizes immigrants to assimilate into mainstream culture to find jobs, especially when ethnicity is tied to class disadvantage, poverty, or a lack of economic mobility. Likewise, Robert LaLonde and Robert Topel (1992) found that income inequality, worsened by recessions, specifically impacts lowskilled immigrants earning less than native whites. In contrast, Bean, et. al (1994), argues that “barriers to socioeconomic attainment operate to discourage more achievement and reaffirm ethnic patterns and customs.” Additionally, Elaine Sorensen and Maria Enchautegui (1994) demonstrate that immigrants, specifically first-generation immigrants, are more susceptible to economic disruptions than natives. George Borjas (1999) argues that a lack of socioeconomic opportunities slows down the assimilation process, since the economic assimilation of the first generation is vital to the continued assimilation of successive generations. There is also a possibility that class boundaries reinforce ethnic boundaries, meaning that a lack of economic mobility decreases cultural assimilation (Steinberg, 1989). Lester and Nguyen (2013) claim that while some immigrants may achieve socioeconomic mobility and assimilate into the American middle class, other groups experience “downward assimilation,” economically on par with America’s lower economic classes, thus increasing strong ethnic ties and solidarity. This phenomenon is known as “segmented assimilation.” According to this theory, eventual economic recovery could lead to economic assimilation but little cultural assimilation. Economic recessions can also impact America’s social and political attitudes towards immigrants. Leonard Dinnerstein and David Reimers (1981) use the example of Chinese immigrants in the 1980s-1990s to demonstrate that when immigrants lack language and labor skills, it is easier to exploit them. They also show that economic downturns tend to increase anti-immigrant sentiment within the United States, as immigrants in the labor market reduce the job opportunities for native workers during economic downturns (Perri, 2010). There are also policy implications that hurt assimilation, since, during economic downturns, immigrant programs are often the first ones to be cut from both state and federal budgets (Fix and Zimmerman, 1994).

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Data and Methods This study will use both qualitative and quantitative methods of research to measure the assimilation of immigrants during periods of recession. Qualitative studies on immigrant assimilation and the factors that impact it will build a framework and foundation for the study. This secondary research will provide an understanding of the various factors that impact immigrant assimilation, and how socioeconomic factors and disruptions in the labor market affect migrant populations. Quantitative methods will include comparing Jacob Vigdor’s assimilation indicator data to data analysis from official data on immigration from sources like the U.S. Census Bureau and the American Community Survey. Data from Gallup public opinion polls on immigration will also be considered to gauge the American public’s attitude towards immigrants during recessions. This study will focus specifically on recession periods between 1980 and the present for two reasons. First, the immigration data for this time period is more reliable. Second, the Immigration and Naturalization Act of 1965 sparked the “fourth great wave of immigration” from the 1960s to the 80s. Additionally, there were significant demographic changes in the ethnicity of the immigrant cohort during this time, marking a shift from predominantly European immigrants to Hispanic and Asian immigrants (Duleep and Dowhan, 2008). This study will define assimilation as, “the process whereby people come to adopt the various mannerisms and behavior of native-born residents of a country” (Vigdor, 2015), dividing it into three categories: cultural, economic, and civic. Economic assimilation will be measured by immigrants’ average wages, employment, home ownership, and education. Cultural assimilation will be measured by English language proficiency and intermarriage with the native population. Civic assimilation will be measured by citizenship and military service. This study will also consider the American public’s positive or negative attitudes towards immigrants to assess whether recessions impact the cultural attitude towards immigrants. To determine the recessionary periods, this paper will refer to recessionary periods as determined by the National Bureau of Economic Research’s Business Cycle Dating Committee. Accordingly, the official recessionary periods within the selected time frame are: December January 1980-November 1982, July 1990-March 1991, March 2001-November 2001, and December 2007-June 2009 (National Bureau of Economic Research, 2012). Assimilation indicators will be compared to these time periods to determine if there is a demonstrable change. To demonstrate the hypothesis is valid, assimilation rate should decrease during periods of recession.

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Research Human capital theory states that “the level of success achieved by an individual in society, is a direct result of educational levels, personal values and skills, and other individual characteristics and abilities” (Crawford, 2008). In the case of immigrants, human capital refers to education, skill level, and English proficiency. In light of this concept, two researchers offer complementary perspectives on the rate of immigrant assimilation. According to Vigdor’s (2015) assimilation index, in 1980, civic assimilation began to decrease and did not start to increase until 1995. However, Figure 1.1 demonstrates that after 1995, the composite assimilation index stabilizes and begins to increase slowly. The index even begins to stabilize and slope upwards around the 1990-2000 period, in spite of three recessions during that time period. Additionally, Vigdor’s calculation of the index after the 2007-2009 recession shows an increase in assimilation. Based on this data, it appears that assimilation trends do not appear to correlate to periods of recessions. George Borjas (2013) theorizes that immigrant assimilation rates are actually decreasing. Additionally, Borjas argues that the gap between immigrant and native wages is not closing fast enough, theorizing that rates of assimilation will continue to decrease.

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Duleep and Dowhan (2008) find that the socioeconomic development and educational attainment in immigrants’ source country significantly impacts their earning potential and economic mobility in the United States. Thus, it is possible that assimilation slows among lower skilled immigrants with less human capital, but remains stable among higher skilled immigrants. Vigdor also points out that these higher skilled immigrants are likely to be more resilient to changes in the labor market that would occur during a recession. It is possible that decreasing English proficiency and lower education levels among low skilled immigrants are the primary cause of the slowing rate of assimilation since the 1980s. Since the majority of immigrants in this time period typically work low-paying jobs, it takes more time for average wages to assimilate to the average wages of native workers (Chapa, 1999). All of these researchers agree that skill levels and cultural makeup of the immigrant cohorts, rather than external economic factors, are the primary influence on cultural and economic assimilation. Thus, while overall assimilation appears unaffected by recessions, assimilation could decrease for immigrant demographic groups with less human capital. Additionally, time spent in the U.S. impacts assimilation. In Figure 1.2, Vigdor’s assimilation research demonstrates differences between assimilation of immigrants depending on the amount of time they have spent in the United States. Immigrants who have lived in the United States for longer periods are more assimilated than cohorts who have recently arrived (Healy & O’Brien, 2014). While immigrants with less human capital may assimilate more slowly than those with higher capital, they are still assimilating. Examining Vigdor’s assimilation index after the 2001 recession, although there is no decrease in civic assimilation, there is a sharp decrease in cultural assimilation for cohorts that arrived between 19962005. There is also a decrease in economic assimilation for cohorts that arrived between 2001-2003.

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Recessions also impact immigration demographics. Since low-skill jobs, like construction, are often most impacted by recessions, immigrants working in these sectors are harshly impacted. Thus, rates of immigration to the United States decline during periods of recession, as immigrants who are unable to find work will return to their countries of origin, and others from those countries will not immigrate at all (Vigdor, 2013). This is especially true during a prolonged recession like from 2007-2009 or 1980-1982. While examining the recession of 2007-2009, Vigdor connected the lack of low-skilled jobs during a recession to decreasing numbers of immigration. According to additional statistics, economic recessions lead to a decrease in immigration rates, as evidenced by the decline in immigration during the recessions in 2001 and 2007-2009 (Passel and Suro, 2005). Recessions also exacerbate human capital differences. Vigdor (2013) demonstrates that the majority of the immigrants who stay or continue to immigrate will be from the better educated, English-proficient segments of the cohort. The higher human capital of these means that most immigrants who enter the country both during and after the recession will assimilate with relative ease. Recessions, therefore, change the makeup of the immigrant cohort, attracting those immigrants who would already be likely to assimilate faster. These two effects demonstrate that recessions have an almost nonexistent impact on assimilation, as larger numbers of immigrants with more human capital will balance any decreases in economic, cultural, and civic assimilation for some immigrants. This makes assimilation much more difficult to track because of the differences between ethnicities and demographics. Additionally, data from July 1990-March 1991, and March-November 2001, suggest that shorter recessions that last one year or less do not significantly impact assimilation rates. However, long-term economic troubles and the subsequent changes in the labor market do disproportionately impact the immigrant population, especially low-skilled migrant workers. The cyclical nature of the business cycle statistically impacts immigrants more than natives, and these differences are

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more pronounced depending on which sectors are affected by the recession (Pia and Zavodony, 2009). For example, during the 2001 recession that primarily affected the information technology sectors, Asian immigrants were most economically effected because of their higher engagement in the technology sector (Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2002). Most low skilled immigrants work in cyclical jobs like construction or harvesting, thus, during the 2007-2009 recession, Latino unemployment levels were higher than other immigrants and much higher than native unemployment rates within the same sectors (Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2010) The long term impacts of recessions on the labor market may also have long term impacts on workers’ economic mobility. Firstly, the growing income inequality in the U.S. labor market, worsened by economic downturns, has disproportionally impacted the earnings of lower skilled migrants (LaLonde and Topel, 1992). Examining the impact of recessions on income inequality is beyond the scope of this paper, but LaLaonde and Topel imply that the economic recessions would decrease long term economic assimilation for lower skilled migrant workers. Waters and Jimenez (2005) argue that the combination of recessions and socioeconomic changes has decreased the overall amount of low skill, entry and mid-level jobs— jobs that help immigrants assimilate. Numerous studies point out that recessions create barriers to socioeconomic opportunities, thus resulting in lower wages and less employment, and less economic assimilation (Dinnerstein & Reimers, 1981). Combining this with the knowledge that recessions have a less substantial impact on immigrants who have been in the United States longer, low skilled immigrants who have been in the United States for shorter periods of time when recessions occur will have difficulty finding employment. For first-generation immigrants who experience these barriers because of a recession, the impact on their economic mobility slows the economic mobility of future generations, reducing their overall economic assimilation. However, the average wages for higher skilled, more educated immigrants did not decrease, although they still fell below the average earnings of natives in the same sector suggesting that their economic mobility and assimilation is impacted by factors besides recessions (Alcobendas, 2012). Education, the third indicator of economic assimilation, also demonstrates the differences between higher human capital and assimilation. There is a gap among immigrants between ethnicities in educational attainment (U.S. Census Bureau, 2012). Latino graduation rates are below those of natives, while Asian graduation rates are equal, and sometimes above, natives. Additionally, the percentage of immigrants among undergraduates in the US increased from 9-10% between 1999-2008, even though there were multiple recessions between those time periods (National Center for Education Statistics, 2012). However, these numbers do not change consistently enough during recessions to substantiate a correlation.

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While economic assimilation for low-skilled immigrants is impacted by recessions, civic, cultural, and economic assimilation are not necessarily interconnected (Manhattan Institute, 2005). This is seen in the differences between Hispanic and Asian demographics in Vigdor’s assimilation index, where Hispanics show much more cultural assimilation than Asians. Thus, it is possible for a decrease in economic assimilation to occur without corresponding changes in cultural or civic assimilation. Since recessions disproportionally impact low skilled workers, the assimilation of immigrant cohorts that are poor and have less human capital is still likely to reduce during recessions. When immigrants lack language and labor skills and cannot find jobs, it is easier for employers to exploit them and harder for them to assimilate into society (Dinnerstein). Therefore, immigrants will at least attempt to increase language skills and otherwise culturally assimilate when the labor market is disrupted, as would occur in an economic recession. Vigdor’s research (2013) into the impacts of the “Great Recession” between 2007-2009 supports this idea. He found that cultural and civic assimilation increased both during and after the recession period. Research from the CDN Center for American progress confirms this, showing that the immigrant home ownership and English proficiency have steadily increased in spite of recessions (Meyers and Pitkin, 2010). Intermarriage with the native population, one of the indicators of cultural assimilation, has increased, although other research shows that more recent immigrant cohorts tend to intermarry later in life. Intermarriage has steadily increased since 1980 (Wang, 2012). However, these statistics do not appear to be changed by recessions. Immigrant homeownership has increased by 2.6% between 2000-2010 (U.S. Census Bureau, 2010). While census data is collected every 10 years, making it difficult to track recessions directly, the recessions of 2001 and 2007-2009 did not stop the increase in immigrant home owners. Data from multiple sources shows that, during the 2007-2009 recession, the number of immigrant homeowners increased. In fact, the immigrant share of homeowners has increased since the 1980s, even among Latino immigrants (Meyers and Pitkin, 2013). Thus, while barriers to socioeconomic attainment may discourage achievement and reaffirm ethnic patterns and customs, they do not appear to decrease the overall trend of cultural assimilation. Figure 1.3 displays naturalization statistics from 1980-2013. While the general trend of naturalization increases, there are periods of dramatic changes. During the recession in 1982, there was a slight reduction, from roughly 161,000 to 141,000. Interestingly, in 2008––the middle of the 2007-2009 recession––there was a dramatic increase in the number of naturalized citizens from 660,000 in 2007 to over 1 million in 2008. Thus, the naturalization data seems inconclusive as to the actual impacts of economic recessions on naturalization.

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According to Flamm and Sumption (2012), naturalized immigrants were able to weather the recessions better than non-citizen immigrants. Considering that naturalized immigrants would have lived in the country much longer, and are likely to have more human capital, this supports previously mentioned research that the recession’s impact are tempered by the amount of time spent in the United States and the acquisition of human capital.

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While these internal factors and indicators are a method of measuring assimilation, the American political and social attitude towards immigrants will impact how they are received, and possibly, their assimilation. During recessions, government programs aimed at helping immigrants are typically cut from state and federal budgets, which is likely to hurt assimilation (Dimmerstein and Reimers, 1988). Again, this will primarily have an effect on low-income, low-skill immigrants since they are the ones in most need of government programs, welfare, and ESL programs to help them assimilate. The necessary cultural assimilation is less likely to occur among these lower income immigrants, which will alternatively strengthen existing ethnic ties (Dinnerstein and Reimers, 1988). Even after the economy recovers, these immigrants will find it more difficult to assimilate.

Additionally research done by Fix and Zimmerman indicate that the sentiments of the American people tend to be less favorable toward immigrants during times of recession (Fix and Zimmerman, 1994). The Gallup poll in Figure 4 demonstrates that this assumption is correct. At around the 1980, the number of people believing that immigration should be decreased rose, corresponding with the two year recession. After dropping, this number rises sharply around 200-2002, which was the period of the “Y2K” recession, and rises again around 2009, coinciding with the 2007-2009 recession. Clearly, economic downturns impact opinions of immigrants among the general native population. There is some factual basis for this, as immigrants in the labor market during recession’s crowd out the labor market for native workers (Steinberg, 2001). In theory, greater anti-immigrant sentiment would prompt more efforts to increase cultural assimilation. However, if

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anti-immigrant sentiment does not decrease after the recession, immigrants will find it more difficult to be accepted by natives (Brugge, 1995). Again, these findings mostly impact lower and lower-middle class immigrants, making them more likely to stay within migrant communities and hurt social and economic mobility (Jiminez and Waters, 2005).

Conclusion and Suggestions for Further Research Available data does not provide a correlation between the three kinds of assimilation and economic recessions, since human capital, amount of time spent in the United States, and the length of the recessions are the biggest factors that impact how immigrants are hurt by recessions. These factors are the greatest determinants of assimilation, and thus, also impact how insulated immigrants are from the effects of the recession. Thus, there will be substantial differences between how, for example, a white-collar European immigrant who has lived in the United States for 20 years and a blue-collar immigrant from Brazil who has lived in the country for three years will be affected by the recessions. These differences mean that the average assimilation statistics may not provide a complete picture of how immigrants on opposite sides of the economy are affected by recessions. Recessions do not stop or reverse the trend of increasing assimilation; rather, they have varying effects on the economic assimilation of immigrants. Immigrants with higher human capital, who are already likely to quickly assimilate, are often the ones who stay in the US during periods of recession. However, for migrants employed in low-paying jobs or sectors that are the most impacted by recessions, economic downturns can hurt their economic assimilation. This impact is more severe in first generation immigrants, while immigrants of any demographic who have lived in the United States over 5-8 years enough are not as severely affected. Immigrants with less human capital are also the main target of anti-immigrant sentiment and are the most substantially impacted by a decrease of government aid to immigrants. Thus, economic recessions may change the immigrant cohort’s demographics, encouraging those with more human capital to migrate to the U.S. and assimilate quickly. On the other hand, they can slow the process of economic assimilation for low skilled immigrants, primarily those who have been in the country for less than 1-5 years. Overall, recessions are not a primary factor in the overall pattern of assimilation, but they can exacerbate existing factors, especially in terms of economic assimilation. Additionally, the research shows that, as the hypothesis predicted, economic assimilation was the most impacted by recessions. However, the indicators of cultural and civic assimilation did not necessarily show a substantial link between recessions and changes in the data. This is further complicated by

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the varying levels of human capital among immigrants. The hypothesis should be revised to focus specifically on various ethnic and socioeconomic demographics within the migrant population to determine how their cultural and civic assimilation is affected by recessions. This field provides multiple avenues for further research. More detailed research can be conducted to provide clarity about the strength of the correlation between recessions and economic assimilation. Research should be narrowed to focus specifically on certain cohorts and ethnicities, determining how much human capital impacts an immigrant’s resilience to economic downturns. Additionally, most immigrant data is collected from census data, which is only conducted every ten years. This makes it difficult to specifically correlate data to recessions, which typically last between 6-24 months. Further studies can also be done on government programs that target immigrants to help them assimilate. Additionally, research into the links between recessions and overall wage depression, education levels, and income inequality could be conducted to examine how these factors specifically affect immigrants. The United States has historically been proud of her status as a “nation of immigrants.” However, it is important to remember that assimilation is a vital part of the immigration process. For some immigrants, economic recessions may damage their hopes of truly becoming part of American society. Steps should be taken to ensure that immigrants, regardless of demographics or skill set, have opportunities to succeed and assimilate into American culture. If immigrant success in the United States is determined solely by their previous education and skill levels, then the United States’ status as a country of equal opportunity will be in doubt.

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Jiminez, T. and Waters, M (2005). Assessing Immigrant Assimilation: New Empirical and Theoretical Challenges. Annual Review of Sociology. Retrieved November 1, 2015 from JSTOR. LaLonde, R., and Topel, R (1992). The Assimilation of Immigrants into the US Labor Market. The National Bureau of Economic Research. Retrieved from http://www. Lester, T.W., & Nguyen, M (2013). The Economic Integration of Immigrants and Regional Resilience. Retrieved on October 15, 2015 from wp-content/uploads/2013/05/Lester-Nguyen-immigrant-integration.pdf Mengistu, Azanaw (2014). Homeownership Rate Gap Between Immigrants and the Native Born Population Narrowed Faster During the Last Decade. Fannie Mae Housing Insights, 4(5). Retrieved from research/datanotes/pdf/housing-insights-082514.pdf Meyers, Dowell, and Pitkin, John (2010). Assimilation Today. Retrieved November 25, 2015 from issues/2010/09/pdf/immigrant_assimilation.pdf Orrenius, Pia, and Zavodny, Madeline (2009). Tied to the Business Cycle: How Immigrants Fare in Good and Bad Economic Times. Retrieved on November 25, 2015 from Perri, Giovanni (2010). The Impact of Immigrants in Recession and Economic Expansion. Retired October 2, 2015 from research/impact-immigrants-recession-and-economic-expansion Pew Research Center (2013). Second-Generation Americans: A portrait of the Adult Children of Immigrants. Retrieved November 2, 2015 from http:// report_2-7-13.pdf Ryan, Camille, and Siebens, Julie. Educational Attainment in the United States. Retrieved November 20, 2015 from Steinberg, Stephen (2001). The Ethnic Myth: Race, Ethnicity, and Class in America. Boston, MA: Beacon Press.

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Vigdor, Jacob.(2008). Measuring Immigrant Assimilation in the United States. Retrived October 3, 2015 from measuring-immigrant-assimilation-united-states-5835.html Vigdor, Jacob (2013). Measuring Immigrant Assimilation in Post-Recession America. Retrieved October 3, 2015 from VjmB6berTIU Wang, Wendy (2012). The Rise of Intermarriage. Retrieved November 25, 2015 from

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Thanks The George Wythe Review would like to gratefully recognize the Collegiate Network for their contribution to the success of our publication.

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