Monthly Archive for July, 2012

International Year of Statistics [2013]

The International Year of Statistics
The International Year of Statistics is scheduled for calendar year 2013. But, there are lots of upcoming conferences and other activities associated with this celebration. You’ll need to send in abstracts in advance of 2013.

One last feature of the celebration website is the resource section. This may prove useful for teaching purposes.

Census: Planning Ahead for 2020 [Senate Hearing]

This was a fairly congenial hearing. I am not certain if a transcript of the hearing will show up, which includes the Q & A among the senators and the witnesses. Otherwise, you’ll have to watch the streaming video.

Census: Planning Ahead for 2020
Subcommittee on Federal Financial Management, Government Information, Federal Services & International Security
July 18, 2012 2:30PM
Dirksen Senate Office Building, room SD-342

The Honorable Robert M. Groves
Director, Census Bureau

The Honorable Todd Zinser
Inspector General, Department of Commerce

Robert Goldenkoff
U.S. Government Accountability Office

Dr. Jason Providakes
The Mitre Corporation

Dr. Jack Baker
The National Academy of Sciences

Dr. Andrew Reamer
George Washington University, Institute of Public Policy

The Senate debates the American Community Survey

The following is a compilation of editorials related to the American Community Survey. The Senate will be voting for an appropriations bill, which includes funding for the Census Bureau. In the House version of this bill, the ACS was scrapped – not just made voluntary. Search on “data/ACS Census” for previous posts on the ACS funding saga.

Census Bureau information requests are redundant [Letter to the Editor]
R E Laraway | Morning Sun [Mt. Pleasant, MI]
July 25, 2012
This letter writer is against the ACS because he sees redundancies in surveys. He argues that much of the information asked in surveys the government already has – like the IRS.

These ongoing surveys ask many of the same questions that were asked on the 10-year census survey. However, the same government regulations that control all these surveys also prohibit sharing responses across surveys. In other words the government continually uses our tax dollars to get information from us that they already have. (IRS for example).

As I stated earlier federal law requires participation in the 10-year census. I’m told by the U.S. Census Bureau that participation in the ongoing “Current Population Survey” and the “Consumer Expenditure Survey” are not required by law. I will keep that in mind when next contacted I understand the need for most, not all, but most of the information requested.

I do not understand nor will I support the redundant efforts, questions, and expense involved in the current methods of surveys.

Census questions fulfill important purpose
Ken Prewitt | USA Today
July 24, 2012
This is a letter to the editor by a former Census Bureau director, in response to Daniel Webster’s, R-FL editorial opposing the American Community Survey. Webster is also the author of the amendment that de-funded the ACS in the House appropriations bill.

Indiana gubernatorial candidate keeps up attack on opponent’s voting record
Eric Bradner | Evansville Courier & Press
July 22, 2012

Good data leads to good decisions: Save the ACS
Pamela Herd | Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
July 21, 2012
This editorial has a nice paragraph for the not-so-statistically-literate public, which might also include Congress:

Webster also argued for the cut stating that the ACS “is not a scientific survey, it’s a random survey.” This is wrong. Randomization is what makes the survey scientific. Just like a physician doesn’t need to withdraw all of your blood to accurately assess your health, the ACS doesn’t need to interview the entire population. However, the portion of the population interviewed must be chosen at random to ensure that the sample represents the population as a whole.

Candidate Pence Disagrees with Congressman Pence… Again
Gregg for Governor |
July 20, 2012
The ACS is being used in a political campaign by challenger John Gregg against Mike Pence in the Indiana governor’s race.

Census Surveys: Information that we need
Robert Groves | The Washington Post
July 20, 2012
Great closing statement:

A strong country is strong because it knows itself. Statistical information is central to that strength.

This editorial was repeated in full by the Daily Herald [Utah].

The American Community Survey stirs up Controversy
Al Macias | KJZZ Live [with text & audio]
July 19, 2012
[with text & audio]

Eliminating America’s playbook
Dr. Frances Deviney [Texas Lone Star Forum] | Waxahachie Daily
July 18, 2012

Waxahachie is in Texas and the author uses a nice Friday Night Lights analogy to express what it would be like for businesses, planners, non-profits, state/local governments, etc. to operate without the American Community Survey. Here’s a taste:

Football is a longstanding tradition in Texas, with high expectations for rigor, skill, and success. But what if I told you that one day, all of the playbooks and player stats would just disappear? Coaches would no longer have information on how the opposing team is performing. Or, worse yet, how their own team was performing, or what types of players they might need to add to develop a winning game plan. And if you don’t have good statistics, you can’t know if what you are doing is making conditions better or worse.

That, my friends, is exactly what will happen for businesses, governments, and nonprofits if Congress stops funding the Census Bureau’s American Community Survey.

The following point might be tongue-in-cheek as many House members who voted to de-fund the ACS link to ACS-generated characteristics about their Congressional District from their websites:

It is inspiring to see that Senator Hutchison and Senator Cornyn believe in the value of the American Community Survey data so much that they link to the data from their official U.S. Senate websites as a way to inform their constituents.

We hope Texans from across the state will ask Senators Hutchison and Cornyn to continue showing their support by voting to fully fund the American Community Survey and keep our playbook intact.

Keeping Survey would boost employment
Katharine Donato | The Tennessean
July 17, 2012

But first we have to rescue the program from political assassination. All business people know you can’t solve problems or allocate resources rationally without metrics. We should demand our senators show that they know it, too, and vote to preserve the ACS.

Critical Senate vote could save Census plan
Bill Thompson | Ocala Star Banner
July 17, 2012
Note: This is the hometown paper of Daniel Webster, R-FL, who sponsored the amendment in the House that de-funded the ACS. This paper responded negatively to that action back in May.

Another View: Census survey essential to business, government decision-making
Op-Ed | The Alexandria Town Talk
July 17, 2012
This is a Gannett newspaper, which explains why this op-ed is a copy of the USA Today “Save the Census American Community Survey” editorial.

Save the Census American Community Survey
Editorial | USA Today
July 16, 2012

Census survey is intrusive and expensive
Daniel Webster | USA Today
July 16, 2012

Note: Daniel Webster is the author of the amendment that de-authorized funding for the ACS – at least in the House’s appropriations bill.

Survey helps us make informed decisions
Jennifer Glick | The Arizona Republic
July 15, 2012

Data Dilemmas: What we Don’t know about School and Work
Amy Southerland | The Atlantic
July 12, 2012

This essay evaluates sources of data for understanding higher education in the US. She touches on the importance of the ACS and concludes:

Granted, data isn’t sexy. It doesn’t hold a lot of popular appeal. Nobody is going to run for president on a “More data! Better data!” platform. And as Oscar Wilde reminds us, “The truth is rarely pure and never simple.” Gathering good data is challenging. Making sense of data is even more so, especially in complex social contexts.

Nonetheless, we need to get at the truth the best we can, using the best data possible, so that policymakers, educators, philanthropists and community leaders can make informed decisions. So I’ll say it, even if I don’t have the stump: “More data! Better data!”

Survey Respondents: Mercenaries or Slaves?
Casey Mulligan | The New York Times
June 27, 2012
This entry from the Economix blog discusses issues associated with making the ACS voluntary. The companion “voluntary ACS” bill on the Senate side is sponsored by Rand Paul [S. 3079]. Two quotes from his piece summarize his view:

Economic data is valuable, which is why survey respondents should be paid for their efforts.

Economic data would be of better quality if supplied, as Milton Friedman put it, by mercenaries rather than by slaves.

Census’ American Community Survey May be Gutted by Senate, Advocates Fear
Michael McAuliff | Huffington Post
June 1, 2012
This piece discusses the issues the ACS faces in the Senate, including Rand Paul’s bill to make it voluntary (companion to Ted Poe’s bill in the House).

The American Community Survey is Under Attack
Kristina Costa | Center for American Progress
May 15, 2012

SNAP’s Role in the Great Recession and Beyond

By: Sheila R. Zedlewski, Elaine Waxman, and Craig Gundersen
Source: Urban Institute


During the Great Recession, millions of Americans turned to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), formerly known as food stamps, to help pay for food. This brief summarizes a roundtable discussion among experts, advocates and government officials focused on SNAP’s role during the recession and beyond, including its impact on poverty, food insecurity and health. Experts concluded that SNAP does more than combat hunger – it is an antipoverty program, a work support, a promoter of health and nutrition, and an automatic stabilizer in recessions.

Full document (PDF)

The 10 Largest Hispanic Origin Groups: Characteristics, Rankings, Top Counties

by Seth Motel and Eileen Patten
Source: Pew Research Center, Hispanic Center

From Overview:

Among the 50.7 million Hispanics in the United States, nearly two-thirds (65%), or 33 million, self-identify as being of Mexican origin, according to tabulations of the 2010 American Community Survey (ACS) by the Pew Hispanic Center, a project of the Pew Research Center. No other Hispanic subgroup rivals the size of the Mexican-origin population. Puerto Ricans, the nation’s second largest Hispanic origin group, make up just 9% of the total Hispanic population in the 50 states and the District of Columbia.

Overall, the 10 largest Hispanic origin groups—Mexicans, Puerto Ricans, Cubans, Salvadorans, Dominicans, Guatemalans, Colombians, Hondurans, Ecuadorians and Peruvians—make up 92% of the U.S. Hispanic population. Six Hispanic origin groups have populations greater than 1 million.

Complete Report (PDF)

The Rise of Asian Americans

Source: Pew Research Center, Social & Demographic Trends

From overview:

Asian Americans are the highest-income, best-educated and fastest-growing racial group in the United States. They are more satisfied than the general public with their lives, finances and the direction of the country, and they place more value than other Americans do on marriage, parenthood, hard work and career success, according to a comprehensive new nationwide survey by the Pew Research Center.

A century ago, most Asian Americans were low-skilled, low-wage laborers crowded into ethnic enclaves and targets of official discrimination. Today they are the most likely of any major racial or ethnic group in America to live in mixed neighborhoods and to marry across racial lines.

Report by chapter and other materials (HTML)
Compete Report (PDF)
Topline Questionnaire (PDF)

Most Muslims Want Democracy, Personal Freedoms, and Islam in Political Life

Source: Pew Research Center, Global Attitudes Project

From overview:

More than a year after the first stirrings of the Arab Spring, there continues to be a strong desire for democracy in Arab and other predominantly Muslim nations. Solid majorities in Lebanon, Turkey, Egypt, Tunisia and Jordan believe democracy is the best form of government, as do a plurality of Pakistanis.

Indeed, these publics do not just support the general notion of democracy – they also embrace specific features of a democratic system, such as competitive elections and free speech.

A substantial number in key Muslim countries want a large role for Islam in political life. However, there are significant differences over the degree to which the legal system should be based on Islam.

Publication website
Complete Report (PDF)
Topline Questionnaire (PDF)

Death of Evidence: Canadians protesting cuts in science funding and programs

This is the press coverage for the “Death of Evidence” movement in Canada – mostly Carleton University scientists

Death of Evidence

The Death of Evidence Website
No science, no evidence, no truth, no democracy

Feds mount systematic, deliberate campaign to reduce role of scientific evidence in decision-making
Diane Orihel, Scott Findlay | Hill Times
July 23, 2012

Death of evidence: Changes to Canadian science raise questions that the government must answer
Op-ed | Nature
July 19, 2012

Changes to Canadian science raise questions that the government must answer
Editorial | Nature
July 18, 2012

‘The Death of Evidence’ in Canada: Scientists’ Own Words
Katie Gibbs, Adam Houben, Arne Mooers, Vance L. Trudeau and Diane Orihel | The Tyee
July 16, 2012

This is a compressed compilation of the speeches that various scientists gave at the ‘Death of Evidence’ protest. Or to quote the tag-line for this article: “(D)ata distorted for ‘propaganda’ and other complaints against the Harper government made at last week’s Ottawa rally.

The day the earth moved in Ottawa
Michael Harris | iPolitics
July 12, 2012

Canada’s budget cuts imperil important environmental research area
Public Radio International []
July 12, 2012
includes audio interview & story

Scientists march on Parliament Hill to protest research cuts
Terry Pedwell | The Canadian Press []
July 10, 2012

Canada’s PM Stephen Harper faces revolt by scientists
Suzanne Goldenberg | The Guardian
July 9, 2012

Stop picking on the social sciences

Most of these article and blog entries are related to Jeff Flake’s amendment to a House appropriations bill, which stripped funding for Political Science from NSF. The Senate should be acting on the appropriations bill that funds NSF in the next few weeks.

Stop bullying the ‘soft’ sciences
Timothy Wilson | Los Angeles Times
July 13, 2012

Congress should cut funding for political science research
Charles Lane | The Washington Post
June 4, 2012

Political Science Serving the Public Interest
Nolan McCarty | The Monkey Cage
May 30, 2012

How Reliable are the Social Sciences?
Gary Gutting | The New York Times
May 17, 2012

Lancet’s special issue on family planning

Lancet just published a series on the effects of population and family planning on people’s well-being and the environment.