Context is everything in statistics

Catching up on my blog reading, I found a post where Richard Florida writes about immigration in the heartland. He relates a story from when he served on a panel in 2003 for the governor of Iowa on the future of the state’s economy, where a conference attendee stated:

I’m the son of Mexican immigrants, both low-skilled. I’m also a recent graduate of Grinnell College[one of the most respected small liberal arts colleges in the country]. Of my graduating class, only five of us have decided to stay in state of Iowa.

I’m a not-so-recent graduate of Grinnell. Many of my peers pursued graduate school, and many left Iowa for the workforce. A large number of graduates stayed in Iowa, where the career office’s connections were strongest. When I graduated, the career office pushed me to stay in Iowa, and didn’t seem to want to help me leave the state. I find it highly improbable that several years later, only five of roughly 300 to 400 graduates would stay in the state, so I wish there was a bit more context given for the number five.

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