DPLS News, May 1996

Please note: Older issues of the newsletter are likely to contain
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DPLS News
May 1996

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DPLS Catalog Now on WWW

Library staff are pleased to present the newest substantial addition to the DPLS World Wide Web site--our Online Catalog of Holdings! An easy-to-use hypertext format provides subject-level browsing of studies, full citations, abstracts, keyword search capability, and complete file information for datasets held by the DPLS. As none of the library's holdings are in the University's MadCat system, the catalog offers a tremendous improvement over the print catalog traditionally used in the library.

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Displaced Worker Survey

The term "downsizing" is commonly found in today's mass media, reflecting the nation's preoccupation with job loss and unemployment. The Displaced Worker Survey (DWS),a biennial supplement to the Current Population Survey, is the major source of U.S. data on layoffs.

The most recent DWS, conducted this past January and February, and covering the period from 1993 to 1995, is eagerly anticipated by researchers. It is likely to be in the center of a growing controversy concerning layoff rates. Although the numbers from the 1996 DWS won't be available until this summer, many economists, such as Princeton's Henry Farber, are saying that displacement rates, although up moderately since 1981, are not as extreme as reported in Newsweek, the New York Times, and elsewhere.

Other findings from the DWS over the last decade show that layoffs are more likely to be permanent now than ten years ago. Also, the proportion of white-collar layoffs to blue-collar layoffs has increased.

Surprisingly, numbers show that the fraction of workers who have been in the same job for a decade or more has remained fairly constant, according to a recent National Bureau of Economic Research paper.

Most analysts will point out that downsizing cannot be considered in isolation, but that job creation must also be examined. And while there has been talk of recent job gains as "MacJobs", preliminary findings released recently by the Government show that sixty-eight percent of all the new jobs created between February of 1994 and February of 1996 were in occupations and industries that pay above-average wages, such as high technology and finance.

Farber found that the average pay cut suffered by workers downsized from full-time jobs who found new full-time jobs was about nine percent. However, it is the unskilled workers who have received the lion's share of wage reductions, as Farber concludes: "The more educated have higher post-displacement employment rates, are more likely to be employed full time...[and] suffer smaller proportional earnings losses."

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Selected Recent Acquisitions

CACI Sourcebook on CD-ROM, (AC-019-001, AC-020-001)

States of the Former Soviet Union 1995: Data on Diskette (CB-529-001)

African Development Indicators, 1994-1995: World Bank Data on Diskette (CB-530-001)

World Debt Tables, 1994-1995: World Bank Data on Diskette (CB-513-004)

Urban Poverty and Family Life Survey of Chicago, 1987 (QN-017-001)

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Eurobarometers at Essex

The 1996 Essex Summer School in Social Science Data Analysis & Collection includes a two-week 'data confrontation workshop' on the Eurobarometers. The workshop will be led by Professor Richard Topf of London Guildhall University.

The entire Summer Programme runs from July 6th to August 15th. The discounted fee for participants from academic institutions is £515. Further details about the Workshop, as well as about the rest of the Summer School programme, are available from the Summer School's WWW page.

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New Statistical Ed Resource

An exciting new educational tool for statistical methods has been placed on the WWW by the DASL project at Cornell. DASL (pronounced "dazzle") is an online library of datafiles and stories that illustrate the use of basic statistics methods. The goal is to provide data from a wide variety of topics so that statistics teachers can find real-world examples, interesting to their students.

The archive contains two types of files, stories and datafiles. Each story applies a particular statistical method to a set of data. Each datafile has one or more associated stories. Data can be downloaded as a space- or tab-delimited table of text. Lists of topics, methods, and data subjects are available, as well as a flexible, weighted search form.

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CPS Outgoing Rotation Group

DPLS will be acquiring several special Current Population Survey files in the near future. These special CPS files, called the Outgoing Rotation Group Files, are produced by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (rather than the Census Department) and provide extremely useful data, with several advantageous features.

These files are created by taking the outgoing rotation group from each month of the Current Population Survey. Compared to the widely used March CPS, the Outgoing Rotation Group File provides approximately three times as many observations. This gives the user a large yearly file of the basic CPS questions: employment status, occupation, income, marital status, etc. Also, the Outgoing Rotation Group File has current pay and current labor force status, whereas the March files have the previous year's earnings tied to current labor force status characteristics.

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Researcher's Notes: American Housing Survey

by Gregory Watson

When people think of data from the Census Bureau, their first thoughts usually turn to the counting of people, such as every 10 years as part of the Current Population Survey. However, as part of their mission, the Bureau of the Census does more than just count people. Some of the other data collected and produced by the Census is equally valuable. In addition, some of the datasets get to amazingly precise detail.

Among the non-person enumerations, the American Housing Survey ranks high as one of the popularly used data sources. This dataset about housing in America is one of the mainstays of housing and real estate economists. The unit of observation here is the housing unit: house, apartment, trailer home, even cave. (Yes, occupied caves are counted as part of the U.S. housing stock. No, there aren't many of them.) This data is most often used to compare characteristics of the properties in different housing markets against one another. The housing qual- ity information has been used for some environmental health issues, such as estimating the number of children at risk due to lead based paint hazards. A national sample is drawn every two years, and approximately 60 MSAs (Metropolitan Statistical Areas) are surveyed on a staggered four year cycle.

For governmental finance researchers, the Annual Survey of Governments dataset is the source for comprehensive government budget statistics. This dataset contains revenue and expenditure data for the more than 15,000 independent governmental entities with budgets of more than $100,000. This dataset is not very well known, but most of the published statistics and articles comparing the finances of different states, per capita tax collections or per capita expenditures by governments, use this source. Historical revisions and additional data are collected by the Bureau in the Census of Governments every five years.

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CDC Call for Abstracts

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) will sponsor a statistical methods symposium on Statistical Bases for Public Health Decision Making: From Exploration to Modeling, January 29-30, 1997, in Atlanta, Georgia. A short course on Exploratory Data Analysis will be offered January 28, 1997, in conjunction with the Symposium.

Social Scientists are encouraged to submit abstracts in one of the following areas (these descriptions are abbreviated): 1)The influence of statistical methods on development/implementation of public health policy; 2) Statistical approaches to assessing the effectiveness and economic impact of preventive interventions and technologies; 3) Exploratory data analysis, robust methods, visualization methods, data diagnostics and preprocessing, spatial data, graphical techniques; 4) miscellaneous applications-- studies emphasizing statistical modeling strategies, modeling with complex survey data, use of models as the scientific basis for interventions, and other public health related statistical applications.

Abstracts should be postmarked no later than July 1, 1996. To request registration and abstract information or for additional information regarding scientific content of the Symposium, contact Barbara McDonnell, CDC/ATSDR Symposium on Statistical Methods, 1600 Clifton Road, N.E., Mail Stop C-08, Atlanta, Ga. 30333 (404/639-3806).

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Internet Corner

CIESIN Gateway Web Interface

The Consortium for International Earth Science Information Network (CIESIN) has released a beta version of a World Wide Web interface to the CIESIN Gateway system. In order to use the Web interface, you will need access to a browser which supports forms and tables. Netscape v1.1N or later, Microsoft Internet Explorer, or the PC version of Mosaic v2.0 are recommended.

The CIESIN Gateway is a metadata search system which enables users to identify databases, information systems, and other resources pertinent to the study of global environmental change, human interactions in the environment, and sustainable development. To date, access to this gateway has been through client software, available for downloading through the web.

With the Web interface, users may retrieve information through simple keyword searches (much like the Lycos and InfoSeek web search engines). Later phases of development will introduce more sophisticated search elements. Users requiring more sophisticated search options may do so by utilizing the original client software, which is available for downloading.

New Ulysses Version

A new version of the Ulysses cross-tabulation engine has been released. This internet service is designed to provide rapid, interactive access to socioeconomic data on indi- viduals and households in China and the U.S.A. Ulysses allows users to choose records from national census data and compute statistical information for the selected records.

The new version of Ulysses accesses the United States 1% Public Use Microdata Samples (PUMS) from 1970, 1980, and 1990. Ulysses also accesses the data from the 1982 China census, which contains 25 data items and over ten million person records. Frequencies, means, summary percentages, and standard deviations may be generated through this engine. To access Ulysses, telnet to ulysses.ciesin.org, and login as ulysses.

British Parliamentary Elections Online

David Boothroyd and David Toube of the Queen Mary and Westfield College, University of London, have created a web site containing hypertext linked data relating to British Parliamentary Elections since 1983.

Current resources available at this site are the index to all constituencies, introduction to election results, abbreviations used, lists of London and British members of Parliament (including email addresses, constituency, and party), by-elections since 1992, the European Parliament Election, 1994, an analysis of the results of the 1992 General Election, and swings from 1983 to 1992, broken down by seat.

Business Cycle Indicators Data Manager

A Windows 3.1 program for managing the time series data contained in the Commerce Department's BCI (Business Cycle Indicators) and BSDC (Current Business Statistics) data files. BCI Data Manager can be configured for Netscape or Mosaic browsers. There is also information here on accessing all of Commerce's BCI and BSDC data files from the World Wide Web:

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End of May 1996 Newsletter.