Matt Hauer: Causal Inference in Population Trends: Searching for Demographic Anomalies in Big Data
February 19 @ 12:00 pm - 1:00 pm
On February 19, 2021, Matt Hauer, an Assistant Professor of Sociology at Florida State University who studies the impacts of climate change on society, will present “Causal Inference in Population Trends: Searching for Demographic Anomalies in Big Data” as part of the Carolina Population Center’s 2020-21 Interdisciplinary Research Seminar Series. This year, the CPC Interdisciplinary Research Seminars will be open to both CPC members and Social Epidemiology program members.
The proliferation of big data, wider access to advanced computing platforms, and the development of powerful statistical algorithms can uncover hidden anomalies in social data, previously dismissed as noise. Here, we combine causal inference techniques and abductive reasoning to identify fertility and mortality anomalies on twenty years of complete demographic data in the United States. We uncover real, “hidden” baby booms/busts and mortality spikes/dips, distinguishable from regular trend variations. We identify more than 22 and 156 fertility and mortality anomalies, totaling more than 200k and 600k anomalous births and deaths, respectively. Notable detectable mortality anomalies include the September 11 2001 terrorist attack in New York and the emergence and acceleration of the opioid epidemic in New Hampshire. Notable fertility anomalies include the “missing births” in Louisiana after Hurricane Katrina and the reduction in fertility behavior after the September 2008 stock market crash in Connecticut, amongst others. The combined causal inference and abductive reasoning approach can be readily adapted to find other, undiscovered social phenomena or to evaluate the efficacy of important public policies
Mathew Hauer is an Assistant Professor of Sociology at Florida State University who studies the impacts of climate change on society. Recently, his research has focused on how migration induced by sea level rise could reshape the U.S. population distribution. The New York Times, National Geographic, Time Magazine, Popular Science, USA Today, and others have featured his research. Before coming to Florida State University, Dr. Hauer spent eight years directing the Applied Demography Program at the University of Georgia where he provided valuable demographic research to local, state, and federal governments.