Data science Summer research opportunity on mass incarceration: Griffin Economics Incubator

Opportunity Description:

American mass incarceration is one of the major social problems of our times. The United States incarcerates more people than perhaps any other country in world history except for Stalin's Soviet Union. Those it incarcerates are disproportionately likely to be poor and nonwhite.

Scholars have offered various compelling explanations for American mass incarceration, but in my view one of the weaknesses of most work on punishment is that it seeks to understand America by studying just America. Most scholars have thus far sampled on the dependent variable.

Together with the Griffin Applied Economics Incubator, we are seeking to remedy this by bringing a comparative and historical perspective to bear on the problem of American punishment and American policing. The goal of this project is to help collect the relevant data. We aim to gather four kinds of data on punishment and violence in comparable countries (other advanced capitalist countries and countries in Latin America) between 1800 to the present. First, data on the number of people in prison or prison-like facilities. Second, data on police employment. Third, data on the amount of money spent by governments on prisons, police, and the courts. Fourth, data on the number of people killed by homicide.

Primary Responsibilities: 

The RA will be responsible for collecting and wrangling these data, which will involve reading archival documents, maintaining an existing database, trawling for new sources online, emailing scholars in the field, and more. This continues research done by other RA's in previous semesters and summers, so there is quite a lot to build on, and you will be joining a team that also include student researchers at Harvard and Uchicago.

I will ask that you write weekly summaries of what you have accomplished. You will also meet once weekly with me and the other RA’s.

Minimum Qualifications and/or Eligibility Requirements: 

The candidate must be a UChicago undergrad, rising 2nd-4th. Spreadsheet and basic quantitative skills are required to curate and maintain the dataset.

Preferred Skills: 

More advanced skills (r programming, webscraping, regression analysis, machine learning, etc.) would be a real plus. 

Knowledge or skills gained from the experience: 

Data analysis skills, team working skills, improving understanding of social dynamics of incarceration.

Application Deadline: 

Monday, April 25, 2022

Application Requirements: 

  • Submit CV
  • 350 Word Statement of Interest
  • For more information on this opportunity, please contact:

    John Clegg
    Affiliated Research Institutes (Optional): 

    Griffin Applied Economics Incubator