Skip to main content
Cornell University mobile logo

Labor Dynamics Institute

Abstract netting in green and red

Our mission is to create and make accessible novel data on the dynamics of the labor markets, we work with research networks and statistical agencies, developing appropriate statistics to inform policy makers, researchers, and simply people seeking knowledge. We emphasize and meet the requirements of stakeholders: users as well as providers, balancing the utility of the data with the confidentiality of the people and businesses whose activities the data describe.

The Economist has published a story on data confidentiality and privacy

The Economist has published a story on data confidentiality and privacy that references work which LDI directors Abowd and Vilhuber, together with collaborators at Cornell and elsewhere, have contributed to. To read the Economist story see

Abowd, Ian Schmutte (University of Georgia), and Vilhuber, who are jointly recipients of a Alfed P. Sloan Foundation grant on privacy and confidentiality, added the following comments:

The story mentions "Census Bureau has used differential privacy in the past for gathering commuters’ data. ". In fact, the Census Bureau has used differential privacy to protect and then publish data already collected. The methodology, developed by Cornell researchers, is "Privacy: Theory meets Practice on the Map" (Published 2008, Data using this privacy protection mechanism and subsequent enhancements are released regularly at and underly the dynamic visualizations of the Census Bureau's OnTheMap visualization (

Furthermore, fully homomorphic encryption (FHE) does not, per se, protect confidentiality. For example, a researcher (or nefarious intruder) can compute a regression coefficient on a category with one member, and thus obtain results that breach privacy. Nothing in FHE prevents this from happening.

More information on the Labor Dynamics Institute's activity in this field can be found on our research page at