NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH

NBER Working Papers by Timothy N. Bond

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Working Papers

March 2014The Sad Truth About Happiness Scales
with Kevin Lang: w19950
We show that, without strong auxiliary assumptions, it is impossible to rank groups by average happiness using survey data with a few potential responses. The categories represent intervals along some continuous distribution. The implied CDFs of these distributions will (almost) always cross when estimated using large samples. Therefore some monotonic transformation of the utility function will reverse the ranking. We provide several examples and a formal proof. Whether Moving-to-Opportunity increases happiness, men have become happier relative to women, and an Easterlin paradox exists depends on whether happiness is distributed normally or log-normally. We discuss restrictions that may permit such comparisons.
July 2013The Black-White Education-Scaled Test-Score Gap in Grades K-7
with Kevin Lang: w19243
We address the ordinality of test scores by rescaling them by the average eventual educational attainment of students with a given test score in a given grade. We show that measurement error in test scores causes this approach to underestimate the black-white test score gap and use an instrumental variables procedure to adjust the gap. While the unadjusted gap grows rapidly in the early school years, particularly in reading, after correction for measurement error, the education-scaled gap is large, exceeds the actual black-white education gap and is roughly constant. Strikingly, the gap in all grades is largely explained by a small number of measures of socioeconomic background. We discuss the interpretation of scales tied to adult outcomes.
March 2012The Evolution of the Black-White Test Score Gap in Grades K-3: The Fragility of Results
with Kevin Lang: w17960
Although both economists and psychometricians typically treat them as interval scales, test scores are reported using ordinal scales. Using the Early Childhood Longitudinal Study and the Children of the National Longitudinal Survey, we examine the effect of order-preserving scale transformations on the evolution of the black-white reading test score gap from kindergarten entry through third grade. Plausible transformations reverse the growth of the gap in the CNLSY and greatly mitigate it in the ECLS-K during early school years. All growth from entry through first grade and a nontrivial proportion from first to third grade probably reflects scaling decisions.

Published: Timothy N. Bond & Kevin Lang, 2013. "The Evolution of the Black-White Test Score Gap in Grades K–3: The Fragility of Results," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 95(5), pages 1468-1479, December. citation courtesy of

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