ILR's John Abowd to lead U.S. Census Bureau research

John Abowd

ILR School Professor John M. Abowd will join the U.S. Census Bureau as associate director for research and methodology and as chief scientist, Census Bureau Director John H. Thompson announced Dec. 10. He will remain an ILR faculty member during the three-year appointment, which begins June 1.

Abowd will lead social and economic statistics research centers and will lead innovation across all statistical programs, according to the agency.

The Research and Methodology Directorate, the Census Bureau department Abowd is slated to lead through May 2019, includes the Center for Adaptive Design, Center for Administrative Records Research and Applications, Center for Disclosure Avoidance Research, Center for Economic Studies, Center for Statistical Research and Methodology, Center for Survey Measurement and the new Center for Big Data Research and Applications.

“I’m thrilled to have Dr. Abowd coming on board to help lead critical work to modernize the Census Bureau’s operations and products,” Thompson said. “John is an internationally renowned scholar and a great addition to lead our research and methodology efforts.”

Thompson continued, “His research on privacy and statistical disclosure limitation are particularly relevant as we work to improve the utility of our data products to our users and honor our commitment to maintain the confidentiality of the data American people and businesses provide us.”

Abowd joined ILR’s faculty in 1987. He is the Edmund Ezra Day Professor of Economics, Statistics and Information Science.

Said Kevin F. Hallock, ILR’s Kenneth F. Kahn ’69 Dean and Joseph R. Rich ’80 Professor: “John Abowd is a remarkable economist and statistician with exceptional knowledge of and experience with the U.S. Census Bureau. Given his experience and intellect, he is a terrific choice to serve in this role. We are delighted he is willing to take on this important public service.”

Abowd began his association with the Census Bureau in 1998, when he joined the team of senior research fellows that helped found the Longitudinal Employer-Household Dynamics program.

Abowd has served continuously since 1998 as a scientific adviser to that program and others at the bureau. Since 2011, he has been the principal investigator for the Cornell University node of the National Science Foundation-Census Research Network and co-principal investigator of its coordinating office.

Abowd is a fellow and past president of the Society of Labor Economists. He is also a fellow of the American Statistical Association and the Econometric Society, and an elected member of the International Statistical Institute. He serves on the National Research Council’s Committee on National Statistics and the American Economic Association’s Committee on Economic Statistics.

Abowd said: “This is a period of enormous methodological challenges for the Census Bureau and all national statistical agencies that will require innovative redesign and re-engineering of the bureau’s flagship activities. I am excited to join Director John Thompson, Deputy Director Nancy Potok and the associate directors in marshaling the bureau’s talented scientific professionals to meet these challenges.”

Mary Catt, MPS ’14, is assistant director of communications for the ILR School.

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