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  • How researchers could tell if you’ve been laid off – from your cell phone records

    The Wall Street Journal - 05/27/2015

    Think about your daily cell-phone use. Maybe you generally call your significant other from the break room. Maybe at lunch you call a friend about meeting up for a drink later. At 3 p.m., you call to make sure your kid got home from school, and at 7 p.m. you call from the bar to apologize for missing dinner again. And so forth. Each phone call generates a call detail record, or CDR, of who you called, when and from where. Looking at these CDRs, you could piece together a decent picture of someone’s life–who they talk to, where they go and when.

    But if a major life crisis happens, that calling behavior would scramble pretty quickly.

    Armed with that key insight, an interdisciplinary team of researchers delved into cell-phone records to see how people’s cell-phone use changed after a layoff. Could they detect the changing patterns? Could they learn how people’s lives change after a layoff? Could this be used to better predict economic statistics? Yes, yes and yes, according to new research published today.

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