Monthly Archive for August, 2012

The Happy Planet Index: 2012 Report

A Global Index of Sustainable Well-Being
Source: The New Economics Foundation

From the Executive Summary:
There is a growing global consensus that we need new measures of progress. It is critical that these measures clearly reflect what we value – something the current approach fails to do.

The Happy Planet Index (HPI) measures what matters. It tells us how well nations are doing in terms of supporting their inhabitants to live good lives now, while ensuring that others can do the same in the future, i.e. sustainable well-being for all.

The third global HPI report reveals that this is largely still an unhappy planet – with both high and low-income countries facing many challenges on their way to meeting this same overall goal. But it also demonstrates that good lives do not have to cost the Earth – that the countries where well-being is highest are not always the ones that have the biggest environmental impact.

The HPI is one of the first global measures of sustainable well-being. It uses global data on experienced well-being, life expectancy, and Ecological Footprint to generate an index revealing which countries are most efficient at producing long, happy lives for their inhabitants, whilst maintaining the conditions for future generations to do the same.

Full text available (PDF)

Olympic Britain

This is a book written by researchers of the House of Commons Library and published on 10 July 2012. It tells the story of social and economic change in the UK since the two previous London Games in 1908 and 1948, using data visualisations to bring to life a period during which our standards of living, the type of work we do, our leisure activities and our lifestyles have changed almost beyond recognition, much like the Olympics itself.

Full print version including charts and tables

Press release with sub-headings like Population, Housing and home life, Income and Education, etc.

Exit Interviews with Bob Groves

Bob Groves reflects on his time at the Census Bureau and the future of data collection in general:

The Data-to-Statistics Chain
Robert Groves | Director’s Blog [Census Bureau]
August 10, 2012

Groves envisions future censuses to be cheaper, more mobile
Jolie Lee | Federal News
August 8, 2012

Census chief Robert Groves: We’ve got to stop counting like this
Carol Morello | Washington Post
August 5, 2012

Census chief: Online survey will cut cost of 2020 headcount
Haya El Nasser | USA Today
August 3, 2012

Census Bureau: Race/Hispanic Origin Experimental Questions

The following is the record of the press conference held by the Census Bureau on its alternative measures of race and Hispanic Origin. There was a morning session followed by a technical question in the afternoon.

Much of the content is covered in reports and powerpoints. But, the reactions by subject-matter experts as well as the Q & A sessions can only be ascertained from the streaming video via the Census Bureau’s USTREAM channel. It will take a few days for this particular session to show up.

2010 Census Race and Hispanic Origin Alternative Questionnaire Experiment
[Press Kit]

Census Bureau USTREAM channel
[Archived videos]

Moving Forward: 5-Year term for Census Bureau Director

With the departure of Bob Groves from the Census Bureau [See here for his exit interviews], it is important to reflect on the Census Bureau director appointment.

The Census Bureau director is a political appointment. But, Congress did accomplish something before their August recess. They passed the Presidential Appointment Efficiency and Streamlining Act. This act eliminates confirmation requirements for about 200 offices.

More important is that this legislation specifically addresses the Census Bureau director position. It still requires Senate confirmation, but it will now be a fixed 5-year term; one term spans the the census (2017-2022 while the other spans the planning stages (2012-2017, etc.). In addition, it has a Qualifications provision that states that “such appoinment shalll be made from individuals who have a demonstrated ability in managing large organizatons, and experience in the collection, analysis, and use of statistical data.”

Presidential Appointment Efficiency and Streamlining Act
See page 9 for the discussion of the Census Bureau director

As an aside, various friends of the Census Bureau have tried to have the Census Bureau director appointment be a non-political appointment – running for a 5-year fixed term. The last attempt was by Carolyn Maloney in the 111th Session of Congress. Her bill was just focused on the Census Bureau. Here’s some background materials.

In the end, this failed in the House, while the companion bill passed in the Senate.

Under Threat: Sequestration’s Impact on Nondefense Jobs and Services

Funding for non-defensse discretionary (NDD) programs will be slashed by 8.4 percent, if Congress does not deal with sequestration during the “lame duck” session of Congress.

The following report provides the details of the impact on jobs and services:

Under Threat: Sequestration’s Impact on Nondefense Jobs and Services
Senator Tom Harkin | Chair, Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on . . .
July 25, 2012

This information & links comes from the Office of Government and Public Affairs, Poulation Association of America/Association of Population Centers.

The University of Michigan also has a helpful website:

Impact of Budget Control Act of 2011

Towards the bottom of the website are reports specific to NIH, CDC, and NSF.

First, the House prohibited funding for Political Science research; now it’s Economics

The House appropriations bill for Labor, Health & Human Services & Education attempts to eviscerate The Affordable Care Act by snuffing out NIH funding for health economics research. The scientific community reacts in the posts/tweets below:

NEWS ALERT: First, the House prohibited funding for Political Science research; now it’s Economics http://bit.ly/Q9OgWF

The dismal science gets dismal news from the 2013 Labor, Health & Human Services & Education Appropriations bill http://bit.ly/Q9OgWF

National Organizations and Universities Oppose NIH Economic Research Ban
Consortium of Social Science Associations
July 30, 2012

Panel Votes to End Prevention Fund, Cut Economic Studies, Freeze NIH
Jocelyn Kaiser | Science
July 2012

Last week, a House of Representatives panel passed a 2013 spending bill that would freeze the budget of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), impose narrowly targeted cuts and restrictions on agencies that pay for science and health care analysis, and potentially strip $787 million from the budget of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The draft bill, reflecting hostility to the Administration’s 2010 health care law and a desire to trim the Department of Health and Human Services, would wipe out HHS’s Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, a backer of evidence-based medicine. It would also bar NIH from funding about $200 million in economics studies.

In the end, this may all be resolved by a continuing resolution, which will extend funding for six months beyond Oct 1. This would delay final votes and compromises on these controversial appropriations bills.

House appropriations bill targets health economics and evidence-based medicine
Jocelyn Kaiser | ScienceInsider
July 18, 2012
First paragraph says it all:

A flat budget for the National Institutes of Health (NIH) isn’t the only unpleasant surprise for research advocates in a House of Representatives spending bill released yesterday. The draft bill, which reflects Republicans’ desire to undo the 2010 health care law and trim the Department of Health and Human Services, would wipe out HHS’s Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ), the main supporter of evidence-based medicine. The bill also bars NIH from funding economics studies.

New POPLINE website

From the announcement:
This revised website gives you new ways to use POPLINE, the world’s largest database of reproductive health literature. Though we add thousands of new records to the database each year, this is the first major update to the website since 2003.

What’s New?

    Modern design
    Multiple export options
    Mobile-friendly interface
    Customizable Advanced Search
    Saved searches and My Documents
    Over 400-pre-coordinated instant searches
    User profiles & updated document request process
    Filter search results by Keyword, Country, Language, and Year

U.S. Launches Interactive HIV/AIDS Database on Census.gov

[MONDAY, JULY 23, 2012] The U.S. Census Bureau today launched an interactive global resource on the prevalence of HIV infection and AIDS cases and deaths. The database was developed in 1987 and now holds 149,000 statistics, an increase of approximately 10,800 new estimates in the last year, making it the most complete of its kind in the world. The launch comes as thousands of people worldwide meet in Washington, D.C., for the International AIDS Conference this week.

The resource is maintained by the Census Bureau with funding from the U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) through the United States Agency for International Development (USAID).

U.S. Global AIDS Coordinator Ambassador Eric Goosby, head of PEPFAR, said on the launch, “This release of the HIV/AIDS database will expand global access to data that are critical to understanding the epidemic. This information is invaluable for the evidence-based response PEPFAR is championing.”

Census Bureau Director Robert Groves said “This database provides the people who need it with quality statistics — supporting the life-saving efforts of our partners at PEPFAR and USAID and the doctors, nurses and public health officials working to reach the end of AIDS.”

The tool is a library of statistics from more than 12,000 articles in international scientific and medical journals, individual countries’ annual HIV/AIDS surveillance reports, and papers and posters presented at international conferences.

The menu-driven access tool permits users to search for statistical information in countries and territories across the world, as well as by subpopulation, geographic subarea (such as urban and rural), age, sex and year (back to 1960).

Statistics for the United States are available separately from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.