What I Learned From Wrestling with Confidential MicroData in a Pseudo-Bunker


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127 pages, dozens of hectic emails, millions of observations, 4 Censuses of Population and 1 National Household Survey (NHS) later, and still I could give you the findings of my paper in a few points. Consequently, I somewhat resent this culmination of my degree, which ran to more than twice its recommended length.

In 1986, 36.9% of Canadian women did not have a high school diploma.

By 2011 only 8.9% of Canadian women did not have a high school diploma.

At least there are some interesting insights into how some things in Canada have changed between 1986 and 2011. I examined the individual files of women from these censuses and the NHS, and on their files, the number of children in their census family.

  1. Among the total sample of women aged 25-50, higher education had a negative effect on the number of children present. This lessened over time.
  2. Among women aged 35-50, after 1986 higher education had a positive effect on the number of children.
  3. Lesser-educated women may have children earlier than well-educated women, but completed family sizes are turning out to be very similar.
  4. Women aged 35-50 show higher mean numbers of children, an indicator of how women are having children later in life. But this is not true of immigrants. Foreign-born women are probably having their children earlier.
  5. Women’s wages have a clear negative correlation with the number of children.
  6. If a woman is in a common law union, this has a large negative effect on the average number of children in the family.

From 1986 to 2011, the portion of women with college degrees rose from 27.5% to 38.7%.

I’m going to spend some time on voodoo rituals to gain the goodwill of my unknown grader, who will suddenly receive 127 pages (a good 77 more pages than he/she would have likely anticipated) of unfamiliar tosh which simply works toward articulating those 6 points. And although those points form my Conclusion, I found the little facts in italics to be more interesting than the meat and potatoes of my work. It’s the small things, right?

Between 1986 and 2011 the portion of women with degrees above the Bachelor’s level rose from 3.5% to 10.6%.

I hope this essay chokes on my dust as I fly to Japan.

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2 comments

  1. Whoa! I am on info overload!

    1) Congratulations on the completion of your thesis! You mock your results but I am sure that getting to them was neither easy nor a direct route. Well done!

    2) You easily just win the prize for ‘Best Post Title EVER’!

    3) Japan?! Damn, that’s good. Make sure we get lots of stories and many, many pictures! Please do a real tea ceremony…I have always wanted to know someone who has done one.

    4) Relax and enjoy…you deserve it!

    5) That thesis thing of yours, does it come in size “men”? 🙂

    1. 1) It definitely wasn’t a direct route! For example, thanks to the regulations of this Statscan bunker, I had to make 3 slightly different copies of all my statistics in order to use them

      2) Haha thank you!

      3) My boyfriend and I will be sure to take as many pictures as the stereotypical tourist, and even more 🙂 I found tea houses in many parks that we are going to, so hopefully we’ll be able to do that

      4) I will! And eat lots!

      5) If I included men too I would have been double counting. People are more confused about the factors that affect women, so I went that route. But the methodology could easily be reproduced using a male sample instead!

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