Archive for the 'Data & Methods' Category

Opoid Use and Labor Force Participation

US Map Opoids and LFP

Image link: Large | Small

Alan Krueger has a paper in Brookings Papers on Economic Activity on opoid use and labor force participation and it got quite a bit of press coverage as well. And, luckily for us, the data are also available:

Where have all the workers gone? An inquiry into the decline of the U.S. labor force participation rate
Alan Kruger | Brooking Papers on Economic Activity
Fall 2017
This paper is part of the Fall 2017 edition of the Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, the leading conference series and journal in economics for timely, cutting-edge research about real-world policy issues.

Paper | Data | Slides [Krueger] | Slides [Katz, discussant] | Slides [Notowidigdo, discussant]

Additional Coverage
How the opioid epidemic has affected the U.S. labor force, county-by-county
Fred Dews | Brookings Now
September 7, 2017

The Opioid Crisis Is Taking a Toll on the American Labor Force
Eric Levitz | New York Magazine
Sep 7, 2017

The stunning prevalence of painkiller use among unemployed men
Danielle Paquette | WonkBlog: Washington Post
Sep 7, 2017

Drugs Are Why 1 in 5 Men Drop Out of the Labor Market
Sy Mukherjee | Fortune
Sep 7, 2017

One in Five Men Leave Workforce due to Opioid Epidemic, so Drugs – not Immigrants – are Stealing Jobs
John Haltiwanger | Newsweek
Sep 7, 2017

The Future of Free Public Access to Government Information

This tweet and post alerted us to the potential loss of free public access to government information, due to a potential modification of Title 44.

DLF tweet

This PSC blog entry will provide links to all the posts on the potential changes to Title 44 on the website, a really valuable site founded by the two Jims (James A. Jacobs and James R. Jacobs). But, first some bonus links:

Link | Audio of James A. Jacobs summarizing the issue
Link | The Digital Library blog post, which gives a nice summary of the audio
Link | Call to sign a petition to protect the public right to government information

Here we go again: GPO wants to change Title 44
James A. Jacobs and James R. Jacobs |
July 15, 2017
This piece is heavily referenced, providing a history of previous attempts at re-writing Title 44. It includes the gem of a “Let Me Google That For You Act” introduced by Tom Coburn, R-OK that would repeal the National Technical Information Act of 1988.

Reading between the tea leaves: more about revising Title 44
James A. Jacobs and James R. Jacobs |
July 31, 2017
Clarificaiton of GPO’s intentions with revising Title 44. First, not just Chapter 19, but “a thoughtful evaluation of all chapters.” This post is also nicely annotated.

This is not a drill. The future of Title 44 and the depository library program hang in the balance
James A. Jacobs and James R. Jacobs |
July 27, 2017
This post provides suggested talking points/letter content for public input. Alas, the deadline of August 31 has passed, but there is still a petition you can sign

Mid-August came 5-posts:

Strengthening the Discussions about Title 44
Strengthening the Discussions, Part 1: Modernize the definition of “publications”
Strengthening the Discussions, Part 2: Ensure Free Access
Strengthening the Discussions, Part 3: Ensure Privacy
Strengthening the Discussions, Part 4: Ensure Preservation

The Promise of Evidence-Based Policymaking

This is the final report of the Committee on Evidence-Based Policymaking, reported on earlier.

The Promise of Evidence-Based Policymaking
The final report, required by the Evidence-Based Policymaking Commission Act of 2016 (P.L. 114-140), was unanimously agreed to by the Members of the Commission.

Biographies for members of the Commission on Evidence-Based Policymaking

Answers to questions about the purpose and activities of the Commission on Evidence-Based Policymaking.

News: Certificate of Confidentiality

Rebecca Clark sent out some news via Twitter today:


Here’s the official notice from NIH:

NOT-OD-17-109: Notice of Changes to NIH Policy for Issuing Certificates of Confidentiality

Stanford Open Policing Project

This is a collection of vehicle and pedestrian stops from law enforcement departments across the US. Currently the data consist of 130 million records from 31 state police agencies. Next stop is law enforcement agencies in major cities.

Data availability grid

The website is quite extensive. It provides access to the raw data as well as a standardized version – to enable cross-state comparisons. There is also excellent guides on how to use the data. Follow their suggestion and start with a small state. There are lots of publications based on these data – many of them covered in the popular press.

Stanford Open Policing Project

  • Data ReadMe
  • Standardized Stop Data
  • Analysis Code and Further Documentation [hosted on GitHub]
  • Publications
  • Popular Press
  • Commission on Evidence-Based Policymaking

    This commission has been meeting since June 2016. All the presentations and transcripts from each meeting are available on the internet:

    Commission on Evidence-Based Policy Making

    There have been 7 meetings so far. A final report is due September 2017. The presentations cover difficulties in linking data, especially at the state-level from statutory, to content differences, to formatting.

    As an introduction, here’s the charge for the commission:

    The Commission on Evidence-Based Policymaking begins its work in the midst of an unprecedented movement toward evidence-based policymaking. This movement has been growing for more than a decade at the federal and state levels, and reflects a continued desire from the American public and policymakers that credible information be available to inform decisions about government programs and activities. Congress and the President created this bipartisan Commission to provide the nation with guidance on ways to further expand our approaches to evidence-building in government. We recognize that we have been given an enormous opportunity to help the country move towards better and more effective government in the coming decades, and look forward to developing a bipartisan strategy to ensure that evidence increasingly informs the important decisions that affect the lives of Americans.

    And, from the “about” section, a bit more on its charge:

    Members will apply their diverse range of experience and multidisciplinary expertise to study several key issues related to the use of survey and administrative:

    • Existing barriers to accessing and using data government already collects
    • Strategies for better integrating existing data with appropriate infrastructure and security, to support policy research and evaluation
    • Practices for monitoring and assessing outcomes of government programs
    • Whether a data clearinghouse could enhance program evaluation and research opportunities

    During the course of its work, the Commission will solicit input from stakeholders, including Federal agencies, researchers, program evaluators, program administrators, advocacy organizations, foundations and non-profit organizations, and the business community.

    Under current law, the Commission will issue its findings and report to the President and the Congress in September 2017.

    Baking a cake without ingredients

    The Census Bureau was criticized for canceling some of its testing for the 2020 Census by the committee that just cut the funding for the testing.

    Census Bureau budget indicates 2018 field tests of 2020 Census will be cut back
    Census Project
    July 17, 2017

    Relevant excerpt

    Now, because of budget cuts, the Census Bureau is dropping the West Virginia and Washington state test sites.

    To say the least, this puts the 2020 Census in danger of a botched count.

    In response, House Democrats on the Appropriations Committee offered an amendment to the spending bill increasing the FY 2018 census budget by more than $300 million to fully fund the 2018 field tests. The amendment was rejected by the committee on a party-line vote with all GOP members voting against the proposal.

    Ironically the committee report which accompanies the approved committee FY 2018 budget (and which was written by the House Republicans) calls upon “the Census Bureau to reconsider its proposal to cancel two of the three test sites scheduled for 2018.” Committee member and U.S. Representative Grace Meng (D-NY) noted the report calls for something that the Appropriations Committee had just cut, funds necessary to implement its own budget!

    To keep up with Census news, follow the Census Project Blog or receive updates via:
    Facebook | Twitter | Email

    Where has John Thompson Gone?

    John Thompson resigned from the Census Bureau, effective June 30th. [See previous post on this]. Here’s where he landed:

    Logo for COPAFS

    John H. Thompson Appointed Executive Director of COPAFS

    WASHINGTON, July 12 – The Board of Directors of the Council of Professional Associations on Federal Statistics (COPAFS) is pleased to announce the appointment of John H. Thompson as Executive Director, effective July 24. Thompson succeeds Katherine Smith Evans, who has served as Executive Director since October 2012.

    [Link to full Press Release]

    The Gray Lady Speaks

    The New York Times posts an editorial about the 2020 Census – its funding, leadership, and the consequences thereof.

    Save the Census
    Editorial Board | The New York Times
    July 17, 2017

    Selected excerpts from the editorial:

    The Government Accountability Office already put the 2020 census on its list of high-risk projects early this year, due to uncertainty about its budget and technology, and Americans’ increasing distrust of government data collection.

    Then, the Census Bureau’s director, John Thompson, who was expected to remain on the job until at least the end of the year, resigned in June. Mr. Trump has not named a permanent replacement. The agency’s deputy director, Nancy Potok, an experienced statistician, left in January, and she also has not been replaced.

    Responses to mail-in questionnaires — still the chief data collection method for the census — and door-to-door interviews have been declining for years, a G.A.O. report said.

    The bureau — criticized in the past by government watchdogs and Congress for cost overruns and management missteps — is strapped for cash in a critical preparation year.

    The bureau hopes to bolster its door-to-door “clipboard” force by automating the force’s work and introducing online reporting. But there’s not much money to test whether the approach actually works on the census: The bureau scrapped three field tests slated for this year, and two more for next year, including tests among rural people, who are traditionally one of the most seriously undercounted populations. There’s also less money to protect the online system from hacking of the kind that crashed Australia’s online count last year.

    Mr. Trump poses an additional threat: His repeated efforts to discredit voter registration data and government employment numbers leave census officials worried that a random tweet from him could discourage more people from participating. Census professionals worry that the administration’s efforts to deport undocumented immigrants could make them wary of providing information about themselves and where they live.

    The census is the federal government’s chief source of data about the American people and economy, a sweeping endeavor. “If you don’t do the investment at the front end, you can’t fix it later,”. . .

    How to Measure Affordable Housing? Include Transportation Costs

    Logo for an index

    The Housing and Transportation H+T Affordability Index
    This index provides a comprehensive way of thinking about the true affordability of place. The H+T Index offers an expanded view of affordability, one that combines housing and transportation costs and sets the benchmark at no more than 45% of household income. It presents housing and transportation data as maps, charts and statistics for 917 metro and micro areas. Costs can be seen from regional to neighborhood level.

    Below is an article that references this H+T Index:

    It’s Time to Change How We Measure Affordable Housing
    Joe Cortright | City Lab
    June 23, 2017
    A cheap home isn’t affordable if it comes with high transportation costs

    . . . .There are lots of reasons to believe that a single, fixed percentage of income standard does a poor job of reflecting whether housing is priced appropriately, and whether households are being asked to spend too much. I’ve explored some of these issues before, but today I want to focus on one key issue: the tradeoff between cheap rents and costly transportation.

    . . .

    What this means as a practical matter that you can’t judge whether an individual household’s living situation is affordable just by looking at whether they spend less than 30 percent of their income directly on housing.