Author Archive for lisan

Federal Register Notice: Some ACS questions on the chopping block

You can comment on the Census Bureau’s plans to remove some questions from the American Community Survey (marriage history and field of study in college) via the Federal Register:

link to Federal Register Notice

A working paper by Kennedy and Ruggles provides some talking points on the marriage history question: “Breaking up is Hard to Count . . . ” And, quite a number of researchers of the STEM population, including the migration of STEM folks, ought to be interested in the field of study question.

It is interesting to note that questions that were thought to be vulnerable (flush toilet, leaving time for work, income, and mental/emotional disability) were unscathed. For historical purposes (e.g., April 2014) it is interesting to review a summary of these touchy questions.

Here is a summary of how the Census Bureau came up with the questions to be eliminated. It comes down to a grid of mandated/required questions x user burden/cost:

American Community Survey (ACS) Content Review
Gary Chappell |Census Bureau
October 9, 2014

Other helpful links are on the ACS Content Review website.

Political Science: A self-inflicted wound?

Stanford University and Dartmouth have sent an open apology letter to the state of Montana for a voting experiment conducted by political scientists at their respective institutions. The study had IRB approval, at least from Dartmouth. It uses a database of ideological scores based on donors to identify the political affiliation of judges. See this Upshot article on the start-up company, Crowdpac, that developed this database. Montana is quite irritated with the use of the state of Montana seal on the mailer. Did that get through the IRB?

The letters:

Senator John Tester’s letter to Stanford & Dartmouth | The apology letter

Messing with Montana: Get-out-the -Vote Experiment Raises Ethics Questions
Melissa R. Michelson | The New West (blog of the Western Political Science Association)
October 25, 2014

Today, the Internet exploded with news about and reactions to a get-out-the-vote field experiment fielded by three political science professors that may have broken Montana state law and, at a minimum, called into question the ethics of conducting experiments that might impact election results.

Professors’ Research Project Stirs Political Outrage in Montana
Derek Willis | NY Times
October 28, 2014

Universities say they regret sending Montana voters election mailers criticized for being misleading
Hunter Schwarz | The Washington Post
October 29, 2014

Breaking News: Protect the 2020 Census

Senator David Vitter (R-LA) has filed an amendment to the FY2015 Commerce, Justice, and Science Appropriations bill (H.R. 4660), being considered now in the U.S. Senate, that would prohibit the Census Bureau from spending funds on the 2020 Census unless it includes questions regarding U.S. citizenship and immigration status. [Source: APDU]

Below are links to talking points related to this amendment:
Vitter Amendment Talking Points [from the Census Project]

Vitter Census Amendment to Require Questions about Illegal Aliens [Press Release, David Vitter]

Supreme Court rebuffs Louisiana’s 2010 Census Suit [PSC Info Blog]

Apportionment Resources: Legal [PSC Info Blog]

Another rule from NIH: Demographers might get to ignore this one

NIH wants the routine gender bias in basic research to end. This mostly applies to animals used in laboratory research, e.g. mice or cell cultures. An earlier directive from NIH required clinical trials to include women and minorities.

Policy: NIH to balance sex in cell and animal studies
Janine A. Clayton and Francis S. Collins | Nature
May 14, 2014
html | pdf

Labs Are Told to Start Including a Neglected Variable: Females
Roni Rabin | New York Times
May 15, 2014

Related History:
Monitoring Adherence to the NIH Policy on the Inclusion of Women and Minorities in Clinical Research
National Institutes of Health (NIH) | 2013

Research on Health Disparities: Incarceration Matters

High Incarceration Rates among Black Men Enrolled in Clinical Studies may Compromise Ability to Identify Disparities
Emily Wang, et.al. | Health Affairs
May 13, 2014
html | pdf

This is a nice note, which examines the selectivity introduced into studies when participants are lost to a study due to incarceration – primarily black men. The paper discusses a suggested change in the IRB regulations on studying prisoners, which would help address this selectivity issue. The Vox article below discusses the history of IRB rules, given that this would not be common knowledge among a more general reader pool.

Doctors can’t research the health of black men, because they keep getting sent to prison
Dara Lind | Vox
May 13, 2014

A questionnaire change: politics or not?

The Census Bureau has changed how it will measure insurance coverage in the Current Population Survey – Census Bureau announcement.

Many on both the left and right are unhappy with this change because of the discontinuity with the insurance measure over time – in other words, before Obamacare and after Obamacare.

Many of the comments reflect ignorance on how much research goes into changing, adding, deleting questions or that OMB always reviews questionnaire changes (even under Republican presidents). Also this change is to the questionnaire in the CPS, not the American Community Survey (or long-form census).

But, this quote probably reflects the view of many health analysts: “Getting worked up into an increasingly heated health nerd rage about the Census changes. We’re losing our best data source on Obamacare.” via Twitter. [See tweet and comments]

Here is a compilation of articles in the order they were published:

Census Bureau: Sorry, We’re Going to Have a Hard Time Measuring . .
Patrick Brennan | National Review Online
April 15, 2014

Obama Hijacks Census to Whitewash ObamaCare’s Failure
B. Christopher Agee | Western Journalism
April 15, 2014

Both Sides in Obamacare Fight Slam Census Bureau
Rob Garver | Fiscal Times
April 15, 2014

Census Survey Revisions Mask Health Law Effects
Robert Pear | New York Times
April 15, 2014

Want Useful Data on Obamacare? The Census Bureau Won’t Help
Peter Suderman | Reason (blog)
April 15, 2014

Manipulating Obamacare Stats: The Census Bureau’s Suspect Timing
Guy Benson | Town Hall (blog)
April 15, 2014

Obama’s cooking the Census for Obamacare?
Megan McArdle | Newsday
April 15, 2014

“You Had One Job” [Federal Health Insurance Statistics Edition]
Ben Mathis-Lilley | Slate
April 15, 2014

Republicans Accuse Census Bureau of Trying to ‘Hide the Effects of Obamacare’
Michael McAuliff | Huffington Post
April 15, 2014

Finding “war brides” in the ACS

Several years ago the Census Bureau added a “what year were you married” question to the American Community Survey. This was an uncontroversial change to the questionnaire because it helped shore up data on marriages.

See link from the IPUMS for all the new marriage/divorce timing variables

The CDC used to collate marriage and divorce certificate data from state vital statistics offices, but ceased this operation in the mid-1990s due to budgetary constraints [See sad note to this effect].

Here is a nice illustration from Philip Cohen’s Family Inequality blog on using these data to find out how many World War II “war brides” are still alive.

How many WWII war brides are still living?
Philip Cohen | Family Inequality blog
April 14, 2014

If you don’t like his definition of a war bride, make your own and write it up in your own blog.

Treasure Trove: US Congressional District Shapefiles, 1789-2012

Why should NSF fund political science? Here’s a great reason:

United States Congressional District Shapefiles
Jeffrey B. Lewis, Brandon DeVine, and Lincoln Pritcher with Kenneth C. Martis

This site provides digital boundary definitions for every U.S. Congressional District in use between 1789 and 2012. These were produced as part of NSF grant SBE-SES-0241647 between 2009 and 2013.

The current release of these data is experimental. We have had done a good deal of work to validate all of the shapes. However, it is quite likely that some irregularities remain. Please email jblewis@ucla.edu with questions or suggestions for improvement. We hope to have a ticketing system for bugs and a versioning system up soon. The district definitions currently available should be considered an initial-release version.

BLS: Budget cut casualties

The FY2014 budget for BLS has cut two important data programs: The Quarterly Census of Employment and Wages and the International Price Program. The latter is a principal economic indicator.

2014 Budget Enacted for Bureau of Labor Statistics
BLS Information Press Release | Bureau of Labor Statistics
February 25, 2014

The following document describes the U.S. Import and Export Price indexes, which clarifies what other government agencies and the business community are losing.

Get to Know a Principal Economic Indicator: U.S. Import and Export Price Indexes
Council of Professional Associations on Federal Statistics | www.copafs.org

U.S. Import and Export Price Indexes
This is the data/information link for the February 14, 2014 release
Data tables for the U.S. Import and Export Price Indexes
Downloadable tables | html version | Archival releases

Blexting: it’s not what you think

Blexting is short for “blight texting.” It is an app that a Detroit-based start-up (Loveland Technologies) created, which is being used to map all Detroit structures to fight blight. Here’s a bit of the coverage of the software and the amazing progress the blexters have made in mapping Detroit blight:

map

Watch: Battling Blight with “Blexting”
Hell Yeah Detroit | Your Online Guide to Being a Better Detroiter
January 26, 2014

Loveland’s passion: Battle blight
Amy Haimerl | Crain’s Detroit
February 19, 2014
Map tech – aka ‘blexting’ – charts growth

Battling Blight: Detroit Maps Entire City To Find Bad Buildings
Quinn Klinefelter | National Public Radio
February 18, 2014

A Picture of Detroit Ruin, Street by Forlorn Street
Monica Davey | New York Times
February 17, 2014