Sunday, April 03, 2005
Researchers strike back against the dark Empress of the Latinobarometer...
At my CIDE email, I received a letter being circulated by Mitch Seligson. He is spearheading a much-needed effort to break Marta Lagos' monopoly on public opinion surveys in Latin America. Ms. Lagos has been director of the Latinobarometer for nearly a decade.
The Latinobarometer gets funding from various international agencies to carry out public opinion research throughout Latin America, but as the letter drafted by Mitch mentions, there are several problems with the management of the Latinobarometer. For instance, all data is embargoed for four years and then reseachers must pay by country, by year, and by variable for the data. It is very expensive. Then, the documentation for the data is poor, and it is also likely that the sampling methods and survey designs are not of good scientific quality.
Despite the problems with the data, the results of Ms. Lagos' annual reports continue to be quoted at length in highly respected news outlets. Essentially, due to the embargoes and Ms. Lagos' control of the surveys, she is often the only one able to present results from the data. These results are usually just descriptive statistics. It is really a shame that so many resources are squandered on poorly executed public opinion polls.
Luckily, Mitch Seligson and others are going to strike back. Send letters to the head of USAID, the World Bank, and others that fund the Latinobarometro. Hopefully get a change in management or the creation of a better, more democratic, more academic organization to coordinate and disseminate the data from public opinion polls in Latin America.
posted by Michelle @ 2:04 PM,