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Introduction: Summer Intern Brendan McDonald

My name is Brendan J. McDonald II, and I will be a senior this fall at B.M.C Durfee High School. I am a Fall River native and will be a fourth generation Durfee graduate. I came to Durfee after a nine-year parochial education. This small school and highly structured environment provided me with a unique understanding of the human race. It taught me to never judge, appreciate diversity, expect problems to arise, and to work to solve those problems with hardwork, dedication, and belief in the cause.

The city of Fall River and attending Durfee allow one to experience and witness the trials and tribulations our community faces. Being a part of the 2015 Public Policy Internship Program will allow me to be a part of the solution, creating ways to better serve our community. This summer we are researching the mobility of Section 8 housing in Massachusetts. We hope to identify any problems with Section 8 and the mobility of its recipients.

This September, entering my final year at Durfee, I plan to focus on the challenges our generation faces. To bring a more tactical approach to the debate team, I will encourage my peers to strategically attack our problems and uncover beneficial solutions.

In regards to my future and goals, the college application process has begun with assessing which options are best for me. I have a multitude of options to apply to, but my first choice will be the U.S Military Academy at West Point. There, I will gain perspective on a national level, making our nation a better place to live.

In conclusion, I will leave you with a quote by Eleanor Roosevelt,  to better understand my approach to life and my future: “Yesterday is history, tomorrow is a mystery, today is a gift of God, which is why we call it the present.” One has to accept whatever comes, and the only important thing is that one meets it with the best one has to give. This is not a dress rehearsal, it is our life, so let’s make a difference.

Introduction: Summer Intern Cheyenna Forsee

My name is Cheyenna Forsee and I’ll be returning to Durfee High School this September as a rising senior. I have spent all my high school years at Durfee, and I am involved with the Mock Trial team and the Youth Leadership Council. This summer, I hope to be able to learn new things and gain valuable experience. I hope to learn things that will help me achieve my future goals. My main goal is to become a human rights lawyer because I am extremely passionate about that subject. I saw this internship as a good opportunity to build up my knowledge and help me to use some of these skills in my future. In the fall, I will continue competing with Mock Trial as well as the Youth Leadership Council, where we volunteer, as well as work closely with organizations like the 84 Movement (which fights to end teen tobacco use). I will also be applying to colleges in the fall, hoping to major in political science to help get myself to law school. If possible, I would rather major in human rights, but I have had to expand my horizons due to the small number of schools that offer it as a major. My main concern is affording college because I am concerned about not getting enough scholarships. My brother will be heading off to college just 3 years after me, so I have to think about the cost of attendance. This summer, we are working on a project involving the socioeconomic mobility and clustering of families and people in Section 8 housing. We found this topic very interesting because the Greater Fall River area has so much Section 8 housing, and it has become a controversial subject. Section 8 is supposed to provide more mobility for the people who use it, and I think the results of this project, and the final map will be a great source of information. In any case, I am extremely excited to be working here this summer and I think this will be a great experience for me, as well as the other interns!

Introduction: Summer Intern Katrina Ferreira

My name is Katrina Ferreira, and I am proud and excited to be an intern at the UMass Dartmouth Public Policy Center this summer. I am a rising senior at Durfee High School in Fall River, and will be applying to colleges in the fall, as a prospective International Relations major. At Durfee, I am active in many organizations and clubs, such as Student Government, Greater Fall River Youth Leadership Council, Mock Trial, and Debate Team. I participate in these clubs because they all help me achieve something significant- whether it is bettering my school, my community, or myself and my peers. I applied for this internship because I wanted to continue bettering my community and myself over the summer, but in a more compact and concrete way. I am very excited to be able to do research on some problems present in my city, and to use tools of analysis to effectively develop potential solutions to better my community. My fellow interns and I will be working on a research project studying mobility and clustering of Section 8 Housing in Fall River, MA. I’m interested in this topic because it is has a real impact on my city, which has one of the highest concentrations of Section 8 Housing in the state. Section 8 Housing is an important tool that is supposed to provide mobility and opportunities to low-income families. At the end of my internship, I know I will be very satisfied with everything I have achieved, and the impact I have made. In summary, I am happy and eager to begin my work as a Public Policy Center Intern this summer!

New Resources: The Power of Microdata

By Trevor V. Mattos, MPP Candidate, Graduate Research Assistant, Public Policy Center at the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth

Recently, the Public Policy Center tapped into the American Community Survey Public Use Microdata Samples (PUMS) for two ongoing projects: [1] Socioeconomic Conditions for Immigrants in Worcester, [2] Pay Equity for Women in SouthCoast, MA. These new, extensive datasets allow us to measure a wide range of factors that affect outcomes for women and immigrants in communities around Massachusetts.

Since 2005, the American Community Survey (ACS) has collected detailed socioeconomic data from 250,000 individuals per month, or 3,000,000 people per year. The ACS now serves in place of the since-retired decennial census long form survey, dramatically improving accessibility to current data.  The U.S. Census Bureau provides ACS data to the public in two ways. First, ACS data is published on  census.gov in pre-tabulated formats, which users can access via American FactFinder. Second, a subset of microdata files (roughly two thirds) for both households and individuals are made available for download and independent data analysis.

Microdata allows researchers at the Public Policy Center to answer highly specific, relevant questions about social and economic conditions in many different settings. Microdata are separated into state-level files, within which geographic areas containing roughly 100,000 people, called Public Use Microdata Areas (PUMA), further delineate the data. Careful use of PUMS’ complex survey data can yield nearly endless options for statistical inference and estimation. Using PUMS can be tricky though, as one first has to isolate the data of interest using less-than-intuitive geographical area codes, then weight the data appropriately. Finally, researchers must navigate statistical software like SPSS or Stata to derive estimates, margins of error, and statistics. A few examples of the analytic potential of such data follow:

[1] The median annual income, in 2013 U.S. dollars, for white, employed women over the age of 16, with a high school education (or less) in SouthCoast, MA is $23,880.27, while that of Hispanic or Latino women with matching characteristics is $16,398.19.

 

[2] In Worcester county central, or Worcester city proper, there are 17,943 native born individuals holding a 4-year university degree, while for the foreign-born population there are 6,401. However, comparing these estimates to total population estimates reveals that 16% of the foreign-born population holds a degree, while only 13% of native-born individuals in Worcester are 4-year degree-holders.

 

[3] For the average foreign-born worker in Massachusetts, a statistically significant relationship exists between ‘years in country’ and ‘average annual income’. Regression analysis of ACS microdata shows that for each additional year in country, the average foreign-born Massachusetts worker earns an additional $927.11 per year, in 2013 US$.

 

The Public Policy Center is surging ahead with a number of different projects supported by the new analytic potential of ACS Public Use Microdata Samples. We are excited to use these new tools to inform the conversation on social and economic issues that impact SouthCoast, Massachusetts and beyond!