Investigating the popular claim that there is more slaves now than at any other point in history

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It’s a claim that has become almost common knowledge, repeated by countless prominent media outlets such as the BBC, the Toronto Star, and the Guardian. The claim is featured prominently on the website of 50 for Freedom:

MYTH: RELATIVELY FEW PEOPLE ARE VICTIMS OF FORCED LABOUR

FACT: There are more people in slavery today than at any other time in history.

It’s a startling claim, one that has captivated and moved people around the world. Unfortunately, it’s also a claim resting on relatively little evidence.

While it likely goes without saying, it’s worth clarifying anyways: nothing in this article is intended to downplay the severity or brutality of modern slavery, nor to discredit the organizations that work against it. Of course, I agree with the unfortunate reality that many people worldwide are subject to forced labor. This article simply seeks to determine if the common claim that more slaves exist today than at any other point in history is accurate or not. …


Compared to its peers, the US response has been a failure in every way

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As it stands today, the US leads in the world in both confirmed cases of COVID-19 (with over 8.5 million) and deaths due to COVID-19 (about 230,000) — and it’s only getting worse. It’s a tragedy of astounding proportions, and sadly, it’s one that was largely avoidable.

In the early stages of the pandemic, many countries were caught off-guard. …


Polls were wrong in 2016. But it’s not likely they will be this time

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We’ve heard this story before — Joe Biden is ahead in the polls and looks likely to come out ahead on election day. …


Formerly solid Red states are looking increasingly purple

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The Presidential election is nearing, and things aren’t looking good for the Republican party. FiveThirtyEight gives the Democrats an 80% chance of taking the White House; the Economist is even more bullish, estimating an 89% chance. While there is still enough time for a large shift, things are looking increasingly bleak for Donald Trump. Worse yet, 538 also gives Democrats the edge to take control of the Senate (63% chance).

For Republicans, it may be easy to write this off election as voter pushback against a somewhat unpopular Donald Trump. This view — that there is nothing fundamentally wrong with the party or their strategy — is convincing in its simplicity. …


A look into the finances of one of the world’s most enigmatic companies

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Tesla has become one of the most controversial companies in the world. Critics have long lambasted the company for running large losses, producing comparatively few vehicles, and falling short of certain promises.

However, despite this, Tesla’s share price has skyrocketed from under $30 in 2010 to nearly $1,400 today. Despite producing much fewer vehicles, Tesla has overtaken Toyota has the most valuable automaker in the world:

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So what factors are driving this increase? Is Tesla a promising, growing company, or are they grossly overvalued?

The stock market is forward-looking — meaning investors aren’t just concerned with what Tesla is today, they’re factoring in expected growth. So even if Tesla is smaller than competitors today, investors expect it will be larger in the future. …


A look into the economics of billionaires

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In response to rising inequality of wealth and income, many people have promoted policies aimed at redistributing wealth away from the ultra-rich. Some have taken it even further:

Sanders isn’t the only one to make this declaration. Robert Reich (former Secretary of Labor, and a prominent left-wing voice) has made a similar declaration, while UK politicians have also joined in.

So, realistically, what does this mean? And would it be feasible for America to eliminate billionaires?

Without question, the US has relatively high income inequality. The most common measure of inequality is the Gini index — where a score of 0 would indicate perfect equality (everyone has the exact same income) and a score of 1 would income one person has all of the income. While no country falls on either extreme of 0 or 1, there is large differences between many countries. …


An R project exploring fixed-effects regressions

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Introduction

Economic theory tells us that labour productivity is a primary determinant of wages. However, many critics have suggested that this relationship has broken down, particularly in recent decades. This project will explore a fixed-effects regression to analyze the link between productivity and wages in a panel of OECD countries.

This project does not intend to be comprehensive — but rather, more of an experiment that provides some evidence on the topic from a variety of countries.

Data Sources

All of my data will come the OECD database. I download three data series in CSV files: labour productivity (GDP per hour worked), average annual wages, and average annual hours worked. …


The US public debt is exploding. Is the country on a path for financial ruin?

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In the US, it has become the norm for the federal government to spend more than it takes in in the form of taxes. This excess is called the “fiscal deficit”. Collectively, the deficits form the US debt. The US Debt Clock indicates the current debt is sitting right around $26 trillion — and growing quickly as the US injects fiscal stimulus to combat the recent economic downturn.

This might seem like it’s a large amount — and without question, it is. The US debt has also been increasing for many years. …


Find the best (and worst) drafting teams over the last ten years

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Drafting is one of the most essential parts of the game for every NBA team. Luring superstars in free agency is difficult apart from a few marquee franchises, and such high-caliber players rarely come up for trade (and when they do, they usually carry a huge price-tag). For many teams, drafting is the only real possibility to bring in a superstar.

However, our evaluation of drafting is also flawed and largely anecdotal. In this article, I will attempt to quantitatively measure the effectiveness of every team and executive over the past ten years. …


Andrew Wiggins is having a career season. What exactly did he change?

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Andrew Wiggins’ basketball career has so far taken an arc resembling a roller-coaster. Coming into the league, Wiggins was a highly lauded high school and college prospect. After being taken first overall in the NBA draft, he won the Rookie of the Year award in his first NBA season, showing the potential to be one of the league’s premier two-way players. Seeing this potential, the Minnesota Timberwolves gave Wiggins a massive contract extension, cementing him as a cornerstone of their young rebuild.

Then, things took a turn for the worse. Wiggins’ progress seems to stop in its tracks, and his play noticeably regressed in many areas. Just this summer, Andrew Wiggins 5-year $148 million max contract was considered unmovable — some began to speculate it was among the worst contracts in the league. …

About

Brayden Gerrard

Data Science | Economics | NBA

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