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Rajan Sambandam

In Part I of this post the ides of Win Shares was introduced as the creation of the sabermetrician Bill James. It is a single number that encompasses the complete contribution of a baseball player during a season and hence allows measurement and comparison of player values over time. In this part we will look at specific Win Share numbers and players who excelled over time.

Researchers (Randomly) Fight Poverty

Posted by on in Rajan Sambandam

Researchers come in many flavors but tend to have a common aspiration; to do research that is meaningful. The researchers at the Abdul Latif Jameel Poverty Action Lab (J-PAL) at MIT are doing exactly that. It is a diverse group of researchers from several institutions from areas such as economics, public policy, development, business and finance that conducts research on developmental issues around the world. What makes them different is that their research often leads to real world solutions that can be applied by governments and NGOs in the service of poverty elimination and related issue. A common technique they apply in this pursuit is the randomized trial.

Of Tightwads and Spendthrifts

Posted by on in Rajan Sambandam

Do you spend money a little too easily or does it hurt to spend at all? Do you wonder if you are the only one or if other people have the same problem too? Does your gender, age or income have anything to do with whether you are a tightwad or a spendthrift? What effect do marketing offers have on your tendency to hand over the cash, or for that matter, your credit card? Recent research shows that tightwads and spendthrifts do exist and are quite different in these behaviors.

The Election: Who Got It Right?

Posted by on in Rajan Sambandam

You can read my previous two election posts here and here. In this post I will take a look at who got the election right and what factors to look for in making that evaluation. Those factors include single polls versus (simple and complex) poll aggregations, use of combination forecasting, the use of cell phone only households in surveys and the astonishing performance of quantitative models that accurately predicted the final results almost a year back. Keep in mind that as of this writing, the final results are still not in both in terms of vote share and in terms of states (Missouri). That said, the results are close enough that we can get a good idea of what went right.

It is election day and you do your civic duty by going to your designated polling place, standing in line, chatting with a couple of nice people, drawing the curtain and pulling the lever. Do you notice where you have voted? Of course, it's at your local school (or church or firehouse). Did that have any iaanfluence on how you voted? Of course not, right? Not so fast. New research (by Jonah Berger, Marc Meredith and Christian Wheeler) indicates that the type of polling place can have a subtle effect on how people vote. The impact is small but it is there in both a controlled lab experiment and in a noisy real-world environment.

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