A new kind of online survey
28/11/2012, 13:52
Filed under: Culture, Ephemera, Politics, Statistics

Today the CBC reported that, based on a recent online survey carried about by Leger Marketing for the Association for Canadian Studies (ASC), as many as two-thirds of Quebecers view a flag hanging in the provincial legislature as a source of pride.*

The article goes on to claim,

The findings shine a light on public opinion in a province that has been sending mixed political messages lately: Quebec recently elected the pro-independence PQ — but only with a minority, and at a time when polls suggest support for independence is low, while the PQ’s sister-party in Ottawa, the Bloc, was nearly wiped off the map barely a year earlier.

Setting aside what I think about whether the polling and voting habits of Quebecers actually send mixed messages,** my first instinct upon reading this bold statement and “online survey” in the same article was righteous indignation: “This study shines no such light!” Continue reading

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What is my PhD about?
27/11/2012, 15:51
Filed under: Economics, Myself, Sociology, Thought

Yesterday the Huffington Post published an article by CCPA Senior Economist David Macdonald on whether Generation Y is more hard done by than the generations that came before it. According to Macdonald, while some things have changed for better or worse, one shift has overwhelmed all of them: Millennials will confront greater risks over their life times than any living generation before them.

And yet, what is risk? Macdonald lists a handful of instances—unemployment insurance is less likely to cover you; students have to go into more debt; pensions are more vulnerable to market fluctuations; housing markets are more volatile—but doesn’t take care to define a general concept.

While risk is an idea with intuitive appeal, if you ask most folks what exactly it means, most would have a hard time giving a concise answer. In fact, it wouldn’t be easy for me either, and I study risk everyday.  Continue reading

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Geeky Graffiti
26/09/2012, 10:49
Filed under: Ephemera, Myself, Statistics

I got stats on the mind. The first thing I thought when I passed this graffiti this morning en route to my favourite daily coffee spot was, “R-Squared!” It does not help that right now I’m working on a paper in which the main hypothesis test consists of a comparison between R^2.

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Big Island in actu
24/09/2012, 16:03
Filed under: Ephemera, Statistics

Sometimes when I read news stories out of China, the numbers reported make me think of the Big levels from the old Super Mario gamesContinue reading

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Tax cuts do lead to greater inequality
17/09/2012, 14:35
Filed under: Economics, Policy

While there appears to be little to no evidence that tax cuts stimulate economic growth, they do seem to make rich people richer relative to everyone else (in The Atlantic).

Analysis of six decades of data found that top tax rates “have had little association with saving, investment, or productivity growth.” However, the study found that reductions of capital gains taxes and top marginal rate taxes have led to greater income inequality.

One of these days, I, or someone else, is going to have to get around to showing how inequality hurts economic growth.  Continue reading

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Tax hikes can lead to economic growth
15/09/2012, 18:03
Filed under: Economics, Myself, Policy, Politics

I spend a lot of time studying economic indicators and reading what various analysts have to say about them. I’m a PhD student in economic sociology and a paid policy analyst. Unfortunately, it’s difficult to reference all these years upon years of study and reflection every time I open my mouth to make a point.

So it’s always nice when the New York Times assembles a pithy infograph that communicates something that I and everyone else that spends all their time thinking and reading about this stuff takes for granted.  Continue reading

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Saturday night rent night
08/09/2012, 23:14
Filed under: Economics, Policy, Thought

This evening, I’m skimming theories of rent. For fun.

Rent is a bad thing. It’s econospeak for “undeserved profit.” Rent is a fun concept because it slips power back into neoclassical economics. Rents do not exist in perfect markets. They only exist where institutional contexts favour one group or individual at the expense of others.

While skimming the net, a few things stood out.  Continue reading