Critiquing an evaluation of the Alaska Permanent Fund Dividend’s impact on tribal Alaskans for MSSP 629: Research and Evaluation Design at Penn

Purpose of Study

“Resource rents, universal basic income, and poverty among Alaska’s Indigenous peoples” by Matthew Berman (2018) examines the effect of the Alaska Permanent Fund Dividend (PFD) on mitigating poverty for the state’s rural indigenous (Alaska Native) population. The paper begins by defining universal basic income (UBI) and citing previous studies that address UBI’s role in poverty alleviation.

The study’s purpose continues by explaining the Alaska Permanent Fund Dividend in greater detail. This section is thorough and…


Using georeferencing and ArcGIS to understand how slavery impacts social mobility today

This was an assignment for SWRK 730: Community Mapping at the University of Pennsylvania. The task was to spatially digitize a historical image, bringing it together with a modern geospatial image.

Figure 1: Slavery Density based on 1860 Census. Library of Congress.

I chose the 1861 Atlantic Slave Trade map, currently held in the Library of Congress. The map, based on the 1860 decennial census, was published in September of 1861. President Lincoln reportedly commissioned the piece, trying to gauge the extent of slavery in the American South, just a couple months after the Civil War had begun. The…


How important was the neighborhood you grew up in?

Opportunity Insights, led by Dr. Raj Chetty, has codified intergenerational mobility in the United States. By leveraging IRS tax returns from the 1980’s and linking them to a child’s future income 30 years later, we can now understand how strong the developmental environment is on future economic outcomes for children. Long story short — most America’s wealthiest earners were born to affluent households.

Figure 1: Percentage of Children Out Earning their Parents (adjusted for inflation)

While the American Dream is still possible, i.e. being born poor and amassing wealth throughout life, it has become much more difficult over the past 40 years. In…


New regulations are hurting low-income borrowers

In May the Office of the Comptroller of Currency enacted new regulations that overhauled the 1977 Community Reinvestment Act (CRA). These changes are now under fire. In June, House Democrats — led by Maxine Waters and Gregory Meeks — proposed a new bill that would revise the recent updates to the CRA.

What is the Community Reinvestment Act?

Quite simply, the CRA requires local banks to provide loans to low-income borrowers in their communities. This wasn’t always the case.

In the 1930’s, the Home Owner’s Loan Corporation (HOLC) created maps that redlined certain neighborhoods based on income and race, encouraging…


Why most Californians have been left behind in the nation’s economic powerhouse

This is a story of two cities, two industries, and two ways of life.

California has the largest economy in the United States and its real GDP growth was stronger than the rest of the nation — 4.3% in 2018 . Since 2009, the state’s real GDP has risen 34 per cent (U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis). Per-capita personal income has risen tremendously since the late 1970s, rising to $67,000 per individual by 2018, shown in Figure 1 (U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis).

Despite this prosperity, California’s economy…


He should be alive.

George Floyd shouldn’t be famous.

He was a man, with a life, a loving family, hopes, and dreams.
But now he is a martyr —
his name synonymous with Trayvon Martin, Eric Garner, Breonna Taylor and countless others.

They didn’t ask to become famous —
to become rallying cries for police brutality and Black Lives Matter.
They should be anonymous.
Instead, the world knows their names.
And future generations will know their names.
I’m glad they didn’t die in vain.
But, I wish I never knew who they were.

I wish George Floyd wasn’t targeted for…


Yet the rest of the World is improving…

Economic uncertainty has been boiling to the surface for some time now. The American Dream is dead. And in pure irony, we’re on the verge of producing the world’s first trillionaire. I decided to dig into the data to see if the land of opportunity is truly no more.

Using ArcGIS and the World Bank, I looked at the Gini Index for a better sense of inequality over time. For those unfamiliar, the Gini Index was developed by Italian statistician Corrado Gini in 1912. Also known as the Gini ratio or coefficient…


A visual study of the University of Pennsylvania’s plan to deter crime

In 1999, the University of Pennsylvania sought to prevent and abate crime in the West Philadelphia region. The school established about 145 pan-tilt-zoom CCTV cameras, in addition to 1200 fixed cameras on campus. The cameras theoretically serve as a watchful eye for the University’s Public Safety team.

The goal of this analysis was to use ArcGIS to geocode the street addresses of the CCTV cameras and study crime over time. …


Machine learning has created a new ecosystem in criminal justice. It may just be making things worse.

The United States criminal justice system is broken. And unfortunately, the use of Big Data is further perpetuating systematic inequities in policing, bail hearings, and sentencing decisions.

Predictive policing is defined as the “the application of analytical techniques — particularly quantitative techniques — to identify likely targets for police intervention and prevent crime or solve past crimes by making statistical predictions”. …

Julian Hartwell

Graduate student at the University of Pennsylvania, studying Social Policy and Data Science.

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