Economic Woman

Econometrics, gender, equity and more.

Posts Tagged ‘data

The pitfalls of relying on American social science

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WCI has a fantastic post up about the disproportionate amount of economic research that is about the United States. Frances Woolley suggests that this is in part a matter of data availability, and that’s something I can second. But the post really shines when she gets to the implications of this imbalance:

American experiences are seen as general. (A particularly absurd manifestation of this occurs in international relations, where people will write “A superpower like the United States…” There is no superpower like the US. [...])

[...] In medical research, it probably doesn’t matter whether Canadian or American data is used. A medical treatment that works south of the border will generally work north of the border as well. Indeed, drug trials are not-uncommonly carried out in low-income countries to save costs. The generalizability of studies based on US economic data to Canada is less well-established.

I worry that this is especially true in some of the areas I am most interested in, like education. Of course, that’s difficult to verify without more research. It’s kind of a circular problem, really.

If the US is a bad model for other developed economies, what are we likely getting wrong?

Written by Allison

15 January 2011 at 11:54 am

Job Voyager: Watch women’s voyage into the labour market

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This Flash visualization shows the proportion of the US working population in different occupation categories from 1850-2000. A screen capture cannot do this project justice, so you should click over to the Job Voyager itself. There you can hover over the Flash visualization to locate smaller occupations, and see the gender split for different time periods. You can switch from data for women to data for men and the full population. And you can also search for particular occupations, and look at that data alone.

The “manager/owner” slice has grown noticeably since 1970, reflecting, I assume, the rise of female entrepreneurship.


Just the magnitude of gender segregations is striking when you see it graphically. For classic cases, look at secretaries and carpenters:

image image

We can see women making real progress in some professional careers – but when you look at the labour market as a whole, these high pay and high respect jobs are so tiny you can’t locate them without carefully hovering over the graph. Most women, most men for that matter, do not have access to these high reward occupations.


But this graph isn’t the coolest part – Flare is a library for building Flash data visualizations. That means that you can build your own.

(H/t to Chris Blattman, lately my favourite blogger.)

Written by Allison

17 September 2009 at 4:13 pm


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