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ICPSR Research Paper Competition - Second Place Master's Division

ICPSR Research Paper Competition - Second Place Master's Division

Student/Author: Christine Y. Zhang 

School Affiliation: Columbia University- Quantitative Methods in the Social Sciences MA
Paper Title: An exceptional Dream: Aspirations as a Determinant of Self-Reported Happiness in the US

Abstract: Though income inequality in the US has increased dramatically since the 1970s, empirical evidence has by and large failed to show a corresponding decline in Americans' overall happiness levels. A possible explanation for this somewhat counterintuitive phenomenon is Americans' belief that they live in a meritocratic, upwardly mobile society, broadly known as "American Exceptionalism," which mitigates the negative effects of inequality. However, this hypothesis is rarely analyzed statistically. The present study uses ordered logistic regression of individual-level data from the 2010 United States General Social Survey to examine the linkage between respondents' perception of upward mobility and belief in hard work as a path to success and self-reported happiness level. Results indicate that these factors are more important than objective measures of socioeconomic status in determining overall happiness. These findings provide evidence that the aspirational aspects of American Exceptionalism are salient components of individual well-being.


Spatial Demography

Spatial Demography focuses on the spatial analysis of demgraphic processes.  This cross disciplinary work involves modern demographic data visualization, enhanced geo-referenced data availabliity, and spatial statistics, facilitated through full color graphics, motion video tools, and a quick time-to-publication. Co-founded by Jeremy Porter (QMSS faculty) and Frank M. Howell, the journal officially launched April 23, 2013.


Data Science: The Numbers of Our Lives

Data science “the sexiest job in the 21st century,” and by most accounts this hot new field promises to revolutionize industries from business to government, health care to academia.

Eurry Kim, a 30-year-old “wannabe data scientist,” is studying at Columbia for a master’s in quantitative methods in the social sciences and plans to use her degree for government service. She discovered the possibilities while working as a corporate tax analyst at the Internal Revenue Service. She might, for example, analyze tax return data to develop algorithms that flag fraudulent filings, or cull national security databases to spot suspicious activity.

Some of her classmates are hoping to apply their skills to e-commerce, where data about users’ browsing history is gold.


U.S. Presidential Elections 2012 International Symposium

The Paris Office of the German Marshall Fund of the United States organized on Thursday October 25th and Friday 26th, 2012, an international symposium titled “U.S. Presidential Elections 2012”, in partnership with the Centre d’études et de recherches internationales-Sciences Po, the Alliance Program, the U.S. Embassy, Le Monde and the Paris School of International Affairs of Sciences Po Paris. [QMSS Director], Greg Wawro, spoke on Panel II-Is the U.S. Political System Broken? along with George C Edwards III of Oxford University/Texas A&M, James Klopperberg of Harvard University, and Moris Fiorina of Stanford University on the current state of the American political system while using the presidential campaign to look into the inner mechanisms of US politics.


Do Men and Women Actually Earn the Same?

Carmen Segarra, Dee Dee Benkie and Costas Panagopoulos (QMSS Faculty) discuss equal pay and the election on FoxNews.