Archive for the 'Methodology' Category

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Measuring Race in the Census: Its Fluid

Researchers at the Census Bureau and the Minnesota Population Center matched census responses across the 2000 and 2010 Census and examined changes in the Race/Hispanic origin responses. They found that the biggest change was Hispanics changing their “Other Race” choice in 2000 to “White” in 2010. The groups least likely to change responses were those who identified themselves as non-Hispanic white, black or Asian in 2000.

America’s Churning Races: Race and Ethnic Response Changes between Census 2000 and the 2010 Census
Center for Administrative Records Research and Applications & Minnesota Population Center
CARRA Working Paper #2014-09
August 8, 2014

This paper is nicely summarized here – based on the PAA version:

Millions of Americans changed their racial or ethnic identity from one census to the next
D’Vera Cohn | Pew Research Center
May 5, 2014

As a reminder, the Census Bureau has spent the better part of the past year, looking to change how it collects data on race and ethnicity.

U.S. Census looking at big changes in how it asks about race and ethnicity
D’Vera Cohn | Pew
March 14, 2014

2010 Census Race and Hispanic Origin Alternative Questionnaire Experiment[website]
2010 Census Race and Hispanic Origin Alternative Questionnaire Experiment[report]

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

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