The Book

From the Introduction:
"Statistics are more than just sophisticated lies. In most cases the source of contradictory numbers is sincere disagreement between experts. If we can find out why the experts reach different conclusions, we will understand much more about the problem being analyzed."

Table of Contents:
[Note: Each chapter begins with a review of relevant data sources then discusses the specific controversies listed in italics below. At the end of each chapter are case study questions that can be used for student assignments or to spark class discussion.]
  1. Introduction
  2. Demography
    • Population Counts: How many people are there? Who gets the prisoners? How did 1.3 million people disappear in one year?
    • Privacy in the Census: Double-Edged Sword?
    • Will There Be a Population Boom?
    • Undocumented Immigrants: How many unauthorized immigrants are there? Costly immigrants?
    • Race and Ethnicity: Multiracial  backgrounds. Who is Black? Who is Asian? Who is Hispanic?
    • How Big Is the Gay Population?
    • Households and Families: What is a Household? What is a Family? What is the role of cohabitation? How many divorces are there?
  3. Housing
    • Housing Crisis: How big was the bubble and is it over yet? Could the bubble have been foreseen?
    • Homeownership: Is there a homeownership gap? Is the mortgage deduction a middle-class tax break?
    • Racial Discrimination by Banks
    • How Many Homeless Are There?
    • Geographic Units
    • Segregation
    • Is Your City the Best Place to Live? Ratings. Hedonic Index.
  4. Health
    • Infant Mortality
    • Abortion
    • Are We Living Longer? Hispanic/Mexican American life expectancy: A paradox? Blacks' life expectancy. The very elderly.
    • How to Measure Longevity: Mean and median life expectancy. Age-adjusted rates.
    • Cancer: Cancer incidence.
    • HIV/AIDS
    • Are Americans Getting Fatter?
    • Chicago Heat Wave: What Caused the Tragedy?
    • What's Unsafe on the Road? Speed, Texting, Teens, Motorcycles or Alcohol?
    • Drug Use
    • Benefit-Cost Analysis: Value of human life. Risk assessment.
  5. Education
    • Poor Data
    • Educational Attainment: How many students complete high school? How many students complete college?
    • Testing: Does the United States rank last? Are students learning less? Are we closing achievement gaps? Why do SAT scores keep falling?
    • Charter Schools: Are They More Effective Than Regular Public Schools?
    • Teacher Compensation: Are teachers underpaid? Who is an effective teacher?
  6. Crime
    • UCR, NCVS or NIBRS?
    • Crime is Down - And We Don't Know Why
    • Are There More Female Criminals?
    • Human Trafficking: How Often Does It Occur?
    • Where Is Crime the Worst?
    • Rape
    • Does Poverty Cause Crime?
    • Why Is the Black Crime Rate So High?
    • Does Prison Pay?
    • Hate Crimes
    • Does Capital Punishment Deter Murder?
    • More Guns/More Crime or Less Crime?
    • What About White-Collar Crime?
  7. The National Economy
    • Which GDP?
    • Adjusting GDP Growth for Inflation
    • Problems with GDP
    • Underground Economy
    • Intercountry Comparisons
    • Has China Caught Up with the United States?
    • Measuring Productivity: Which years? Hours worked. Changing products. Services.
    • The Savings Rate: Measurement problems. 
    • Consumer Confidence
    • International Statistics: Month-to-month volatility. Poor quality data. Globalization.
  8. Wealth, Income, and Poverty
    • Wealth: What is wealth? How wealthy is wealthy?
    • Income: Does income of $250,000 mean you are rich? Are the rich getting richer? Is rags-to-riches just an American myth?
    • Are We Better Off? Per capita income. Individual earnings. Family income. Disappearing middle class.
    • Poverty: The official poverty line. The poverty line is too low. The poverty line is too high. Poverty is overestimated for some, underestimated for others. How much did poverty increase during the recession?
  9. Labor Statistics
    • Unemployment: How is came to be. Undercount. Employment.
    • The Minimum Wage and Jobs
    • Unions: Membership. Strikes.
    • Is the Workplace Safe?
    • Squirrel Cage or Easier Times?
    • International Labor Statistics: Unemployment. Employment. Work hours. Unionization.
  10. Business Statistics
    • Who is the Biggest of Them All? Sales. Assets. Market Value. Employment.
    • Are the Big Too Big? What is a market? What is competitive?
    • Is Small Beautiful?
    • Were the Bailouts a Success?
    • How Much Profit? How profitable is a professional sport team? Are profits too high? 
    • How Now Dow?
    • Picking Stock Winners
  11. Government
    • How Much for the Military? How big is the U.S. military budget? How much did the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq cost?
    • How Much for Welfare?
    • How Big is the Deficit? Off-budget items. Valuing pensions. Selling off government assets
    • A Dept Monster?
    • Taxes: Who bears the tax burden? What's a fair share for the rich?
    • Measuring Money: What is money? Missing currency?
    • Inflation: Which CPI?
    • Currency Rates: The problem of many currencies
    • Fewer Voters?
  12. Public Opinion Polling
    • Sampling: Cell phones vs. landlines. Nonresponse. Self-selected internet polls.
    • Survey Design: Question wording. Question order. Stem cell research: support or strongly support? Don't knows: ignorance or honesty?
    • Predicting Elections: Exit polling. Bandwagon and underdog effects. Horserace journalism and polls as news. Political bias. 
    • Polling Standards
  13. Conclusions
    • Poor/Missing Data
    • Improved Data
    • Conflicting Definitions
    • Comparing Apples and Oranges: Which parts make up the whole? Percentage of what? Fluid categories.
    • Comparing Apples and Orangutans: Absolute versus relative. Means versus subgroups. Time period.
    • The Mathematics of Social Science Statistics: Index numbers. Adjustments. Means and medians. What is the baseline? Undue accuracy.
    • The Reporting of Controversies: Complicated cases oversimplified. Headline makers. Truth by repetition. Opinion polling. 
    • Biased Analysis: Slanting the Numbers
    • What's a Researcher to Do?

No comments:

Post a Comment