Friday, February 24
PS2 Poster Session 2 and Refreshments Fri, Feb 24, 5:15 PM - 6:30 PM
Conference Center AB

Statistics for Public Policy: Reflecting on Change in the Last 50 Years (303466)

*Karen Moran Jackson, The University of Texas at Austin 

Keywords: policy, social issues, communication

In 1968 Wilbur Cohen, the U.S. Secretary of Health, Education, and Welfare, presented a talk at the American Statistical Association entitled, “Social Indicators: Statistics for Public Policy.” In the talk, he described two types of statistics that policymakers need: statistics that identify and measure the extent of societal problems and statistics that can mobilize policy change and spur action. Using quotes from Cohen’s talk along with examples of the use of statistics in recent policy debates, this poster will engage the audience to consider how well the field has addressed his call. What have been some best practices for presenting statistics to policymakers? What can we learn from situations when statistics and proposed policy solutions do not align? What are current social issues confronting policymakers that statistics can help address? Since 1968, researchers have developed statistical measures and methodologies that address the first of these needs—statistics to identify pressing social problems. However, the second need—statistics to mobilize change and spur action—is still a critical issue, especially surrounding social justice concerns. This poster will present an opportunity for CSP conference attendees to reflect on and discuss the role of statistics in policy debates around social issues.