A few weeks ago, journalists from the Swedish newspaper Dagens Nyheter visited my office at Harvard to conduct a long interview. The newspaper has just published the news story. It’s in Swedish, so I’m clueless about its contents. But the graphics are really impressive.
In related news, it’s been difficult to blog much in recent days. I have a number of pressing deadlines–papers that need to be written in the next two months–and am doing quite a bit of traveling. I spent all of last week in Europe, giving a lecture in Madrid and participating in a refugee-related conference in Milan. In fact, I will be returning to Europe again next month and in June as well. As the political earthquake that shook Austria over the weekend suggests, we have not yet reached the new equilibrium implied by the pursuit of Merkel-type immigration policies.
The immigration debate is very contentious, with “factual” claims coming from every which way. Not surprisingly, I often hear people say that “you can’t believe anything anymore because you don’t really know what the guy/gal did to reach that result.” And those suspicions are perfectly justified.
I’ve been teaching for a long time, but it wasn’t until last semester that I discovered how useful it was to show students how research gets done in real time. I first tried it out with my Mariel paper, where I could go from the raw CPS data to this striking graph showing the negative effect of the Marielitos in a few minutes with a bare minimum of statistical manipulations.
The top (blue) line gives a 3-year moving average of the weekly wage of working men outside Miami; the bottom (red) line gives the corresponding trend in Miami. I’ve now made this by-the-numbers exposition a standard part of my show whenever I present the Mariel paper at a seminar. It is far more convincing than my claiming: “This is what the data look like. Trust me!”
Some professors have told me that they would like to do something like this in their own classes. And it occurred to me that readers of this blog, many of whom have probably never seen how this type of data analysis is done, would be interested in taking a short video tour that illustrates how you can start from the raw data (publicly available at the IPUMS website); select the sample of low-skill, non-Hispanic men aged 25-59; calculate the average weekly wage of those workers in Miami and elsewhere; and, presto, end up with the graph above, documenting that something did indeed happen in Miami after 1980. Enjoy!
Continue reading “An Empirical Exercise: Mariel”