I discuss using Google search data to analyze social issues. In particular, I suggest using Google search data on taboo subjects, where polls might give misleading information. For example, I compare area-level Google searches for racial animus to area-level vote information to calculate the effects of race on Barack Obama. I also discuss using Google search data to help measure child abuse and depression and predict election turnout.
Seth Stephens-Davidowitz is a data scientist at Google and a contributing op-ed writer at The New York Times. He uses new data sources to find previously hidden behaviors and attitudes. He received his PhD in economics at Harvard, in 2013.