Monday, 14 December 2009

Rejected hypothesis

This is the way science works. You make a hypothesis, you form a prediction, you test the prediction, and then evaluate your hypothesis.

We are forced to reject the hypothesis of massive rural influx into urban areas as the data does not support it. I, myself, was wrong. This graph pretty much says it all:

More at the ADN, where the story is from.

Not only do we need to revise our hypothesis, but it appears the data supports an nearly opposite mechanism! a) Students come from primarily urban areas and b) Among rural areas, those worse off economically appear to export less students! Speculating, this may be because households worse off economically cannot afford to move their households. Or, they tend to value living in situations like their current situation more than the additional leap in economic opportunity.

No one else would put it in economics speak like that, so here's an example: C lives in Alakanuk. With commercial fishing having crashed in the area (and subsistence having been slashed), C decides to move his family. C compares other places - Bethel, Dillingham, Anchorage, Nunapitchuk, Kwigillingok etc - for characteristics including 1) economic oppertunity, 2) current relations 3) similarity to C's preferred ideal of a village/city/whatever. Among those options, he makes a decision where more than immediate economic oppertunity factors in. ("Anchorage has more jobs, but I've got family in Dillingham, and he can get me work on a boat"). 

You'd test this by finding out who moved, who moved where, and whether presence of relatives or some other similarity factors influence movements more than chance. Sounds like a project for some young aspiring masters student out there. ;)

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