Archive for the 'Methodology' Category

Bayesian Statistics in the New York Times

By: F. D. Flam

The method was invented in the 18th century by an English Presbyterian minister named Thomas Bayes — by some accounts to calculate the probability of God’s existence. In this century, Bayesian statistics has grown vastly more useful because of the kind of advanced computing power that didn’t exist even 20 years ago…

…Now Bayesian statistics are rippling through everything from physics to cancer research, ecology to psychology. Enthusiasts say they are allowing scientists to solve problems that would have been considered impossible just 20 years ago. And lately, they have been thrust into an intense debate over the reliability of research results.

Read the full article

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

Changing Race From One Census to the Next

Via D’Vera Cohn, Pew Research Center, FactTank

Millions of Americans counted in the 2000 census changed their race or Hispanic-origin categories when they filled out their 2010 census forms, according to new research presented at the annual Population Association of America meeting last week. Hispanics, Americans of mixed race, American Indians and Pacific Islanders were among those most likely to check different boxes from one census to the next.

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

Census Bureau is considering adding a new Middle East/North Africa ethnic category

Source: Pew Research Center, Fact Tank
By: Jens Manuel Grogstad

From the FactTank story:

The new category would be broader than the Arab ancestry data collected by the Census Bureau since 1980. The Arab-American population is small but growing, and its exact size is disputed. The Census Bureau estimates there are 1.8 million Arab-Americans in the U.S., up 51% since 2000. But the Arab American Institute Foundation estimates there are nearly 3.7 million Arab Americans living in the country. The Arab-American population is also diverse, with people claiming ties to 22 countries and various religious backgrounds.

Read the full story
A story from earlier in the month about other Census form race and ethnicity changes

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