This blog is intended to go along with Population: An Introduction to Concepts and Issues, by John R. Weeks, published by Cengage Learning. The latest edition is the 12th (it came out in 2015), but this blog is meant to complement any edition of the book by showing the way in which demographic issues are regularly in the news.

If you are a user of my textbook and would like to suggest a blog post idea, please email me at: john.weeks@sdsu.edu

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

World Statistics Day--You Can Count on It!

Today has been World Statistics Day, as declared by the United Nations. Gathering good data is fundamental to the entire scientific endeavor that has taken place especially with the dawning of the Enlightenment in Europe in the 18th century. That doesn't mean that people didn't use data before that (a census is mentioned in the Old Testament of the Bible, after all), but almost every aspect of the modern world is driven by data. Data keep getting "bigger" as our data emitting and receiving devices get smaller.

The UN Secretary-General had this message to the world to commemorate the day:
"On this World Statistics Day, I urge all partners and stakeholders to work together to ensure that the necessary investments are made, adequate technical capacity is built, new data sources are explored and innovative processes are applied to give all countries the comprehensive information systems they need to achieve sustainable development."
These are, of course, exactly the kind of data that allowed Angus Deaton to accomplish his prize-winning work. Indeed, I suspect that there has never been a Nobel Prize winner in Economics who did not rely in some important way on government-generated data available to the public to analyze for the public good. Please spread that message to your member of the US Congress the next time there are murmurings about cutting back on the census, the American Community Survey, or any other government data collection scheme. 

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