Razib Khan One-stop-shopping for all of my content

May 22, 2012

The American Community Survey: mend it, don’t end it!

Filed under: Data Analysis,The American Community Survey — Razib Khan @ 9:13 pm

To my surprise there is apparently a move on the part of the Republicans in the House of Representatives to curtail funding for The American Community Survey. I am not too excited by the idea that you could get fined for not filling out a government survey form, but neither do I think that abolishing social statistics is the correct solution to this problem. Rather, better surveys which compensate for biases in response rates are the direction we need to go. The reality is that a government of our scope and continuing responsibilities needs the best social statistics that money can buy. I understand that many believe that some of the functions of our government are illegitimate or unwarranted, but destroying the government’s general ability to function is counter-productive unless you want to total social collapse to trigger a revolution.

Second, government data collection is a public good with positive externalities. If we abolish endeavors such as the American Community Survey than social data will be the domain only of corporations, who are not always keen on sharing that data.

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