Institute for Social Research
University of Michigan
426 Thompson Street
Ann Arbor, MI 48104
NBER Working Papers and Publications
|November 2017||How Well Do Automated Methods Perform in Historical Samples? Evidence from New Ground Truth|
with Martha Bailey, Connor Cole, Morgan Henderson: w24019
New large-scale data linking projects are revolutionizing empirical social science. Outside of selected samples and tightly restricted data enclaves, little is known about the quality of these “big data” or how the methods used to create them shape inferences. This paper evaluates the performance of commonly used automated record-linking algorithms in three high quality historical U.S. samples. Our findings show that (1) no method (including hand linking) consistently produces samples representative of the linkable population; (2) automated linking tends to produce very high rates of false matches, averaging around one third of links across datasets and methods; and (3) false links are systematically (though differently) related to baseline sample characteristics. A final exercise demonstr...
|September 2016||Do Grandparents and Great-Grandparents Matter? Multigenerational Mobility in the US, 1910-2013|
with Joseph Ferrie, Jonathan Rothbaum: w22635
Studies of US intergenerational mobility focus almost exclusively on the transmission of (dis)advantage from parents to children. Until very recently, the influence of earlier generations could not be assessed even in long-running longitudinal studies such as the Panel Study of Income Dynamics (PSID). We directly link family lines across data spanning 1910 to 2013 and find a substantial “grandparent effect” for cohorts born since 1920, as well as some evidence of a “great-grandparent effect.” Although these may be due to measurement error, we conclude that estimates from only two generations of data understate persistence by about 20 percent.