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Research Methods - English 101 - Writing and Research


In the past economists used broad, macro measures such as Gross National Product (GNP) or Adjusted Gross Income as a basis for policy decisions. Many tested programs in the field or performed original research on too small samples. Angus Deaton and his colleagues used existing Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index (GHWBI), a daily survey that asks roughly 1,000 U.S. residents a battery of questions and Gallup World Survey, a similar global survey for important discoveries.

THE STUD(IES): Nobel Prize Winner Angus Deaton and colleagues at Princeton have been revolutionizing the approach to measuring the economic "health" measures by using more vast, existing household survey data (Gallup World Survey) to study poverty, consumption, and international aid. 

PREVAILING IDEA: Higher Income CORRELATES to Happiness, Longer lifespan, etc. 

NEW IDEAS: In 2010, Deaton, et al. find that life satisfaction "levels off" after about $75K per year in the US. (Kahneman and Deaton) 

"No matter where you live, your emotional wellbeing is as good as it's going to get at $75,000, . . .  and money's not going to make it any better beyond that point. It's like you hit some sort of ceiling, and you can't get emotional wellbeing much higher just by having more money." (Deaton, "Happiness") 

By comparing responses to life satisfaction surveys (retrospective) to day-to-day measures of well being, Deaton et al. find that the perception of life satisfaction may increase with wealth, but after basic needs are satisfied, emotional heath is not correlated to income.

So, money buys satisfaction (and some well-being) to a point. After that point it mainly can contribute to self-reported "satisfaction." In addition, the 2015 studies show well being index varies across cultures, with the US having a U-shaped curve. 

APPLICATIONS: Applying the model to ageing and health globally to help solve world economic problems. By using the micro-data from the Gallup Poll, policy makers can see a fuller picture of health and well-being.


The Study: Using new technology, researchers studied DNA from the brain to understand how and when cellular mutations happen. Sequencing the DNA from the brains and hearts of healthy individuals donated for study, the researchers discovered that every neuron in the donated brains had over 1,000 individual mutation points. They determined that most mutations occur when neurons copy their DNA. Mutations that were not unique, but reoccurred in multiple cells, were traced back to the embryonic stage before the brain began to form. By mapping these different types of mutations they were able to establish a clearer picture of human brain development. 

New Ideas: The number of mutations could be both negative and positive as any individual harmful mutation would be less likely to affect the brain function. Brain function could still be impacted if there were too many of a particular mutation reproduced. 

Applications: Being able to map brain mutations may help scientists determine how and why various neurological disorders, such as Alzheimer's, occur.

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