Mentorship Log #10

04/24/2018

Today I met with Professor Robinson for a quick half hour meeting. This was the last of our regularly scheduled weekly meetings. We debriefed about both the conference last week, and the presentation I had gave early today in class. She provided me with feedback which ranged from general academic presentation tips, to technical details that I had missed in my tables. She also sent me an email with a list of all of her comments so that I could refer to them moving forward.

We also decided that I would get her a draft of my final paper by next Monday ( 4/30/18) so that should would have ample time to read over it and provide feedback while still leaving me time to incorporate that feedback before the due date. I thanked her again for volunteering her time this year to mentor me throughout this project, and we agreed that I would come back and visit often over the next two years whenever I either had a question about statistics or just something interesting about remittances that I wanted to share.

Mentorship Log #9

04/17/2018

Today I met with Professor Robinson for just over half an hour. I had just left Professor Assenov’s office, and so I had a solid idea of what I needed to go moving forward with the project. Therefore, most of our meeting today consisted of her helping me figure out how to actually go about creating the types of tables and graphs that Professor Assenov had suggested. Additionally, Professor Robinson answered many of the questions that I had about the upcoming presentations, both about what to include in the poster and about how to structure my presentation. Lastly, we just reviewed the meaning of all of the numbers that I had generated with my analysis to ensure that I was not misinterpreting or misrepresenting anything. By tonight I will have sent her a draft of my poster for her to take a look at and provide feedback on in time for the poster conference on Friday.

Mentorship Log #8

04/17/2018

Today I had my final meeting with Professor Assenov at the CTRL office. Since the purpose of our meetings was primarily to help me get through the regressions in Stata, and since I finished that last week, our meeting today was only about 20 minutes. As I mentioned in my previous post, I have been working this week to represent my findings in a coherent manner. Today, with Professor Assenov, I was able finalize my conception of what I needed to include in both the poster and in the Powerpoint presentation. His main suggestion was to use the log of my capital flow data in the scatter plots, because that way they would be much clearer to a casual observer trying to quickly identify patterns.

Mentorship Log #7

04/10/2018

Last Tuesday Professor Robinson and I had to have our meeting over Skype. The meeting lasted just over an hour.  I showed her all of my results from the analysis I had done the previous week, and we started identifying key relationships and interesting correlations. We began discussing how best to represent the data that I now had  in clear and concise ways for the upcoming class and poster presentations. Partly do to the fact that we were not in the same room, it was slightly difficult for me to get a clear understanding of how to create all of the necessary models in Stata, and so there was fewer substantive outcomes actually produced in this meeting than normal. That being said, I certainly left with an understanding of what types of models I would need to create. I have been working on figuring out these logistics in the past week.

Mentorship Log #6

Tuesday, April 2018

I met with Professor Robinson today over Skype for just over an hour. In this meeting we were able to sort out a number of small details (mostly errors with Stata commands or data formatting), and I now have a finished version of all of my regressions. Additionally we begin exploring ways to represent the data quickly and simply for the updated analysis section of the final paper. I learned how to create general descriptive statistics tables, as well as a complete correlation table for all of my variables to put at the beginning of the section. We also picked out a number of scatter plot binary correlations that may prove helpful as visual aids for either the analysis section of the upcoming presentations. Moving forward I am meeting again with Professor Assenov from the CTRL lab to have him look over my data and results and make sure everything seems consistent and that there are no errors. After that, I am only left with rewriting the analysis section to include the updated numbers and whatever visuals I decide on as most important.

Mentorship Log #5

Tuesday, March 27 2018

This meeting lasted just over an hour. Professor Robinson and I began to actually work through the coding for the regressions in Stata. I had tried to begin this process the week before with someone from the CTRL lab, but we ran into a few issues regarding the data sheet itself, and thus could not move forward, and there was nothing substantial to report. So between that last meeting and today’s meeting I have been fixing up those mistakes, which included converting all gross data into per capita numbers, changing the original indicators (Freedom House and PRIO) into bivariate. Once these changes were made I was able to actually work through the regressions with Professor Field. We quickly decided that I would also need to linearly interpolate the data for my dependent variables which only appear every 4-5 years at best (most likely from national censuses). The reason for this, even though it is in effect “making up data” is that without interpolating, given the limited availability of many of the other indicators, my cases drop from over 1200 to 68. The reason for this is that Stata will only run the regression if every line of data for a case is filled. While 68 is still enough cases to perform the statistical tests, I decided that it will still be beneficial to run the regressions on interpolated data also (I will certainly keep the original regressions with the 68 cases, if for no other reason than to compare). Because my DV’s (Gini index and Poverty percentages) change so little, and so linearly, I decided that linear interpolation will bring more validity to the project by way of adding hundreds of additional cases than it detracts from that validity by “making up data.” Regardless of this addition, the meeting went very well. I now understand all of what I need to to perform regressions in Stata with panel data, and a few other tests which can be useful, such as bivariate correlation for my DV’s.

After this meeting I feel confident moving forward that I can finish up the ‘meat’ of the project in the next week. I will interpolate the data and perform those same regressions that I did with my original data. Once this is done, all that is left is the interpret the results and write up the analysis – certainly not a small task, but one that I am familiar with and feel comfortable doing independently. Once this is done I will begin revising all of the sections we have been working on all year, and I will synthesize them into a complete paper.

Mentorship Log #4

These meetings took place on (3/2, 3/6 and 3/9). The post has been delayed because of the ongoing nature of the meetings, and by the week of Spring break.

On 3/2 I, and another student, met with the directors of the CTRL statistics lab, and we began to discuss the necessary steps for carrying out the analysis portion of my research. The next two days I met individually with a professor specializing in international economics to make final changes to my data set, and to begin the statistical tests in Stata. Thus far we have completed and uploaded my data set, and I have learned how to execute the code for the tests that I will need. We are meeting again this Friday (3/23) to carry out these tests with my data. At this point I will (hopefully) have completed the analysis portion, and be left to interpret the results. In anticipation of possible issues, as well as for help with the interpretation of the results, I have scheduled extra time for my weekly meeting with Professor Robinson. At this point, although I am aware of the fact that issues may arise in the attempt to execute the analysis with my data, I have no specific questions or concerns moving forward. Hopefully by the end of the day next Tuesday I will have completed the analysis and interpretation of my results, and be left the rest of the semester to integrate the analysis section, and continue to make edits to the other sections. In particular I plan on revamping my abstract as soon as possible in anticipation of application to the undergraduate symposium.

Mentorship Log #3

January 26th and February 6th,

On the 26th I met with Professor Poole, and on the 6th I met with Professor Onder, both development economists in SIS. It was suggested that I meet with them during a brief conversation that I had with my current Development professor, Marion Dixon.

My meeting with Professor Poole, unfortunately was made short by the fact that many students from her current classes had appointments with her that day, so we were only about to meet for 15 minutes, however by the end she invited me to come back to continue our conversation. The main takeaways from our brief meeting were a number of readings about remittances. In particular she suggested the work of David McKinzie of the World Bank, and Lopez Cordova, for his work on bilateral US-Mexico remittances. So far these readings have been beneficial, and one or two of them will almost certainly end up in my revised literature review.

My meeting with Professor Onder was more significant. Her background is in development sustainability, and the ecological impacts of economic policy. She suggested a two alternative indicators for economic growth, which the World Bank calculates, that incorporate environmental degradation into wealth calculations. She also suggested a number of databases that might help fill in some of the expected gaps in available data for my other indicators, and she raised the valid point that I had not previously been taking into consideration the effects of climate changes. For this, she suggested the WDI statistic on droughts and floods. She also suggested a number of articles that may provide guidance in how to effectively incorporate ecological effects and indicators in conventional calculations of growth.

Mentorship Log # 2

February 6th, 2018

In our meeting this week, Professor Robinson and I began by clarifying a few of the issues that were raised during the collective advising workshop the prior week. Most substantially this meant putting to rest the question of remittance data from the World Bank (not that the issue is entirely resolved, but I am now confident in the steps that I need to take in order to resolve it), and addressing the concerns raised by Dr. Boesenecker about the specific test I am planning to run. Professor Robinson assured me that I would be able to learn, at least an abbreviated version of panel analysis in the time frame that we are working in. This claim has been backed up by two other development economists in SIS with whom I met, and I will talk more about them in the following Mentorship post.

After that, the conversation moved into the meat of the framework of the project. We cleared up exactly what my independent variables will be (the different forms of capital flows) and what my dependent variables will be (growth, inequality, and poverty). We also made great strides in identifying which exact indicators to use for my many of variables which need to be controlled for.

At this point I feel comfortable with beginning to create my dataset, which I will have done (at least partially) by the next time we meet in two weeks.

Mentorship Log: #1

January 23rd: 2:30-3:15

I had sent Professor Robinson my final narrative paper, and so the first few minutes were spent mainly discussing the paper and making sure we were both on the same page with what the project has ultimately become. I told her about the concerns Professor Field had raised about the accuracy of remittance data, and much to my relief Professor Robinson reassured me that it was acceptable to use the World Bank data. She had not encountered significant research doubting to efficacy of remittance data, and specifically she mentioned that the World Bank data was reliable because it was calculated through models, and not simply a collection of self-reported numbers from all 200+ countries. The conversation then moved to methodology. After reading the paper and meeting with me, she suggested using a times series analysis version of multivariate regression. She also suggested that the program Stata would be more useful than SPSS, and shared with her slides for when she teaches classes that use Stata. I will also schedule at least one appointment with the CTRL lab to go through an in person tour. I doubt it will take too long to get the hang of, because I know exactly which test I need to be able to run.

I also raised an issue with Professor Robinson that I had been exposed to earlier in the week, the idea that GDP may not be the most accurate indicator for what it is intended to measure. After some discussion we came to the conclusion that while GDP does have significant shortcomings, it is still the most prolific measurement in academia for understanding growth, and so it should be included in my project. The main way we agreed to make up for the short coming of GDP was to add other indicators, specifically ones for inequality, HDI and poverty (I am also going to look into ways of measuring ecological impact, as sustainability is becoming an ever louder voice in the conversations around development). Specific measures for some of these indicators are admittedly less direct than GDP, and can vary according to where they are measured. However as long as I use the same measurements consistently, and therefore effectively hold every country to the same standards for defining things like poverty, then I do not foresee a significant issue.

Moving forward, Professor Robinson has sent me a few reading materials to look through concerning GDP, the powers of statistical methodology and remittances. We agreed to meet again in two weeks, however I am assuming that I will see her next week at one of the workshops. I have also scheduled a meeting with a professor Jennifer Poole. She was recommend to me by my International Development professor during an office hours session last week. Professor Poole is a development economist, and she may be able to provide some insights into my project, (hopefully) specifically on data sets and alternative measurements for my dependent variables.