Tuesday, May 14, 2013

big data and economic research

Liran Einav and Jonathan D. Levin highlight how "big data" could change economic research. Being a regular data cruncher myself, this is a welcome contribution as (applied micro-)economists have been skilled in the use of large data for quite some time.

Some highlights:
  • "Government administrative data are almost certainly under-utilized, both by government agencies and, because of limited and restricted access, by researchers" [my emphasis!]--hear, hear!
  • "Many government agencies are increasingly smart about using data analytics to improve their operations and services. However, most agencies almost surely lag behind"...

For all my students, this is good news---quantitative skills and analytical minds will be in demand, probably increasingly so, whether you'll be working in a private firm, in the public administration or as an academic.

Monday, May 13, 2013

boys and girls

Maybe parents treat their female and male children differently. Previous evidence indicates that parents spend more time with pre-teen sons than with pre-teen daughters, a difference that is caused by fathers spending more time with their sons.

Michael Baker and Kevin Milligan have new evidence that this extra time from fathers only emerges with age, and is not present when children are very young:
It is [pre-school] girls, not boys, who systematically, in three leading developed countries [i.e., Canada, the UK, and the US], receive more of these time inputs from their parents

But does this matter for academic achievement? They show that these differences in time are indeed important:
in each country the boy-girl difference in inputs can account for a non-trivial proportion of the boy-girl difference in preschool reading and math scores