The Effects of Redistricting, Typo of the Day, Guest Blogging

Just in time for the start of the media frenzy surrounding the supposed effects of redistricting, here are a couple of papers on the subject that defy conventional wisdom. This one, from The Man Himself, Andrew Gelman:

We demonstrate the surprising benefits of legislative redistricting (including partisan gerrymandering) for American representative democracy. In so doing, our analysis resolves two long-standing controversies in American politics. First, whereas some scholars believe that redistricting reduces electoral responsiveness by protecting incumbents, others, that the relationship is spurious, we demonstrate that both sides are wrong: redistricting increases responsiveness. Second, while some researchers believe that gerrymandering dramatically increases partisan bias and others deny this effect, we show both sides are in a sense correct. Gerrymandering biases electoral systems in favor of the party that controls the redistricting as compared to what would have happened if the other party controlled it, but any type of redistricting reduces partisan bias as compared to an electoral system without redistricting. Incorrect conclusions in both literatures resulted from misjudging the erroneous uncertainties present during redistricting periods, making simplified assumptions about the redistricters’ goals, and using inferior statistical methods.

And Bruce Cain, gated unfortunately:

The purpose of this article is to assess the reality behind the politician’s perception that redistricting matters. There are, of course, many dimensions to that perception, because redistricting has many effects. This articles [sic] focuses on the impact of boundary changes on the partisan composition of seats. In order to do this, it will be necessary to specify what the expected partisan effects of redistricting are and how they can be measured. Thus, I first explain how the impact of redistricting will vary with the strategy of particular plans and then explore some techniques for measuring the partisan impact of boundary changes. I conclude with a detailed analysis of the most important congressional redistricting in 1982 – the Burton plan in California.

Next, check out this particularly odd doozie that popped up in an AP piece reprinted on MSNBC. When I first read this story on MSNBC about the Bolivian retirement age being bumped down to 58, I first came across this tragic sentence (my bolding):

Jacob Funk Kierkegaard, an economist at the Peterson Institute in Washington, says he knows of no other country lowering its retirement age at a time when higher life expectancy is burdening national budgets with pension obligations.

“I would say that they are setting themselves up for a train wreck down the road,” he said in a telephone interview. “That they should be willfully going down this road strikes me as very, very shortsighted.”

Other countries re [sic] moving in the opposition direction [sic?]. France has led the charge to raise the minimum retirement age in Europe, increasing it last month to 62, with full benefits not available until age 67. Even socialist Cuba has raised its retirement ages from 60 to 65 for men, and from 55 to 60 for women.

But then this morning I re-checked the story for purposes of writing this post, and they had “corrected” it to this:

Is it just me, or is it still wrong, or at least awkward?

And finally, this week I guest posted on my brother and co.’s fabulous blog, doing a little stats talk about some interesting surveys of philosophy professors. Check it out!


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