Urban and Suburban Charter Schools

Susan Dynarski examines the research on charter schools for The Upshot:

Social scientists, like medical researchers, can confirm only whether, on average, a given treatment is beneficial for a given population. Not all charter schools are outstanding: In the suburbs, for example, the evidence is that they do no better than traditional public schools. But they have been shown to improve the education of disadvantaged children at scale, in multiple cities, over many years.

Podcast by FiveThirtyEight

The FiveThirtyEight blog has a podcast called What’s the Point: “A show about our data age. Each week, Jody Avirgan brings you stories and interviews on how data is changing our lives.”

The most recent episode is about polling and religion in America.

Drop in Divorce Rate Continues

Philip Cohen updates his paper, Recession and Divorce, in the Family Inequality blog:

When I analyzed divorce and the recession in this paper, I only had data from 2008 to 2011. Using a model based on the predictors of marriage in 2008, I thought there had been a drop in divorces associated with the recession in 2009, followed by a rebound back to the “expected level” by 2011. So, the recession reduced divorces, perhaps temporarily.

That was looking iffy when the 2013 data showed a big drop in the divorce rate, as I reported last year. With new data now out from the 2014 American Community Survey, that story is seeming less and less adequate.

See also: Update: Adjusted divorce risk, 2008-2014.

Mortality of Middle Aged White Men

Philip Cohen, writing for the Family Inequality blog, has some concerns about the Case and Deaton paper showing that the mortality rate for middle-aged white men is rising: “My concern is that changes in the age and sex composition of the population studied could account for a non-trivial amount of the trends they report.”

Surveying U.S. Latinos

The Pew Research Center released a report detailing the unique challenges of surveying Latinos in the United States.

As the U.S. Hispanic population grows, reaching nearly 57 million in 2015 and making up 18% of the nation’s population, it is becoming increasingly important to represent Hispanics in surveys of the U.S. population and to understand their opinions and behavior. But surveying Hispanics is complicated for many reasons – language barriers, sampling issues and cultural differences – that are the subject of a growing field of inquiry. This report explores some the unique challenges currently facing survey researchers in reaching Hispanics and offers considerations on how to meet those challenges based on the research literature and our experiences in fielding the Pew Research Center’s National Survey of Latinos.

Download the full report (PDF)

Life Expectancy of U.S. Children

Josh Barro of The Upshot examines the rising life expectancy in the United States:

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, life expectancy at birth in the United States was 78.8 years in 2013 — 76.4 years for men, 81.2 years for women. But I have good news. Those statistics don’t mean what you probably think they mean.

In fact, an American child born in 2013 will most likely live six or more years longer than those averages: boys into their early 80s, girls into their late 80s.

Measuring Race and Ethnicity Across the Decades: 1790-2010

The U.S. Census Bureau released a new interactive visualization which shows how race and ethnicity categories have changed since the first census.

From the Random Samplings blog post:

Over the years, the U.S. Census Bureau has collected information on race and ethnicity. The census form has always reflected changes in society, and shifts have occurred in the way the Census Bureau classifies race and ethnicity. Historically, the changes have been influenced by social, political and economic factors including emancipation, immigration and civil rights. Today, the Census Bureau collects race and ethnic data according to U.S. Office of Management and Budget guidelines, and these data are based on self-identification.

H/T: Data Detectives

Pew Research Report on Religion in the U.S.

The Pew Research Center released it’s new report “U.S. Public Becoming Less Religious“.

Family Transitions and Student Achievement

Nicholas Zill examines how family transitions affect student achievement for the Family Studies blog:

Among journalists who write about education, the stock explanation for student underachievement and school discipline problems is poverty. Yet there are examples in every school system of students from impoverished family circumstances who do well academically, as well as instances of students from affluent families who get D’s and F’s or wreak havoc in class. When poverty is overemphasized as a cause of instructional ills, other aspects of family life—such as conflict between parents or changes in student living arrangements due to divorce or remarriage—are typically ignored or underemphasized.

Formatting and Cleaning Data

Nathan Yau at Flowing Data gives a quick review of Trifecta Wrangler, which is free software for PC and Mac and aimed at streamlining the process of formatting and cleaning data.