I’m writing some stuff related to measurement, and specifically about operationalizing concepts as measures. Anybody have any favorite examples of clever ideas in measurement?
A economist colleague here at Northwestern (David Figlio) has a paper in which he was interested in whether African-American kids with first names like Da’Quan or Jacquizz had worse outcomes (possibly due to differential treatment by teachers) than African-American kids named Michael or Stephen. My recollection is that it was nicely designed in that the effects were identified off sibling variations: that is, families with a kid named Michael and a kid named Da’Quan. For measures, he used features of names like whether they included an apostrophe and prefixes (e.g., Lo-) or suffixes (e.g., -isha), but this didn’t take into account the apparent common feature of longer names with low-frequency consonants. So, he also included the Scrabble score of each name, which did indeed prove to be an informative measure.