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Links for Statistics, Datasets, and More
The US government collects many statistics from many areas. These can be found in census data or special studies conducted with special funds. They can be part of the regular assessments of the Food and Drug Administration or the Department of Homeland Security. The easiest way to see which government entities collect the statistics you want is to do a Google site search.
ex. Site:gov childcare statistics
This would pull up .gov sites that have numbers you might want to look into that relate to childcare. Not sure of what term to use? Pick a term and think of synonyms. One word will pull up exactly what you need.
Alternately, you can utilize the federal government's own search engine, www.usa.gov to search all of the statistics that federal agencies collect. Please keep in mind that when the government funds various studies, some data may only be reported when a study is finished, so it may seem that current data provided is behind by 1-5 years. That probably means a study is currently being conducted and the results will be released when the study is concluded.
Finding Datasets and Statistics
1. Think about who might collect the data.
- Could it have been collected by a government agency?
- A nonprofit/nongovernmental organization?
- A private business or industry group?
- Academic researchers?
2. Look for publications that cite the dataset
- e.g. scholarly articles or government reports.
3. Once you know that what you want exists, it's time to hunt it down.
- Is it freely available on the web? Check Google—you never know!
- Is it in a database that the library subscribes to?
- Can it be requested directly from the researcher? There’s a reason articles usually include author contact information
A searchable and browsable list of repositories can be found at these websites:
- : a REgistry of REsearch data REpositories
- in the Open Access Directory: a list of repositories hosted by Simmons College
- : a directory of life sciences databases and reporting standards, now expanded to include all disciplines
Types of Data
What is Data?
Data vs. Statistics
Data are raw ingredients from which statistics are created. Statistics are useful when you just need a few numbers to support an argument (ex. In 2003, 98.2% of American households had a television set--from Statistical Abstract of the United States). Statistics are usually presented in tables. Statistical analysis can be performed on data to show relationships among the variables collected. Through secondary data analysis, many different researchers can re-use the same data set for different purposes.
Types of Data
Cross-Sectional describes data that are only collected once.
Time Series study the same variable over time. The National Health Interview Survey is an example of time series data because the questions generally remain the same over time, but the individual respondents vary.
Longitudinal Studies describe surveys that are conducted repeatedly, in which the same group of respondents are surveyed each time. This allows for examining changes over the life course. The Project on Human Development in Chicago Neighborhoods (PHDCN) Series contains a longitudinal component that tracks changes in the lives of individuals over time through interviews.
(Adapted from Tim Davis' Libguide at UC San Diego - http://ucsd.libguides.com/c.php?g=90871&p=583966)
Frequently Used Datasets
Consumer Expenditure Survey (CES) Series
The Consumer Expenditure Survey (CES) series provides information on the buying habits of American consumers and data to support periodic revisions of the Consumer Price Index.
Current Population Survey
A monthly survey of approximately 50,000 households conducted by the Bureau of the Census for the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The survey has been conducted for more than 50 years. A detailed demographic supplement is conducted annually in March, and supplements on other topics, including computer use and school enrollment.
General Social Survey
General Social Survey (GSS) is a long running survey of social, cultural and political indicators. In addition to the GSS, topic modules include computer and Internet, racial and ethnic prejudice, and child mental-health stigma. The GSS has participated since 1985 in the International Social Survey Program.
Public use microdata from the U. S. census and American Community Survey; the U.S. Current Population Survey; and international censuses. Data can be downloaded or analyzed online.
National Education Longitudinal Study 1988
A sample of eighth-graders surveyed in 1988 on a range of topics. A sample were resurveyed through four follow-ups in 1990, 1992, 1994, and 2000. The study has four types of data files - student, teacher, parent, and school - although note each type is available for each survey year.
National Longitudinal Survey of Youth 1979 and 1997
The National Longitudinal Surveys of Youth are designed to document the transition from school to work and into adulthood. They collect extensive information about youths' labor market behavior and educational experiences over time. Data are also available from SSDS.
Panel Study of Income Dynamics (PSID) Series
The Panel Study of Income Dynamics (PSID) series was begun in 1968 to fill the need for a better understanding of the determinants of family income and its changes. Longitudinal survey of US individuals and the families in which they reside.
Survey of Consumer Finances
Conducted every three years, this survey collects information on the assets, liabilities and other financial characteristics of households. It is the only U.S. survey that contains an oversample of wealthy households. Sample Size is about 4,500 families.
Survey of Income and Program Participation
A longitudinal U. S. government survey of the financial status of American households conducted since 1984. Covers government transfer and service programs, pension coverage, housing affordability, financial assistance for education, among other topics. Data may also be accessed via ICPSR
. However be aware this is a difficult set of surveys to use.
World Values Survey
The series is designed to enable a crossnational comparison of values and norms on a wide variety of topics and to monitor changes in values and attitudes across the globe. A variety of questions on religion and morality were included. Data is currently available at ICPSR for 1981-1984, 1990-1993, 1995-1997, and 1999-2004.
US Government data by agency:
Almost all agencies of the United States Government provide access to related data at their agency websites. Google search the agency and search the website by searching for 'data' or 'statistics', for example: Department of Justice to find crime statistics; Bureau of Labor Statistics to find all kinds of employment, unemployment and related data.
Digital Services Librarian
- Statistics collected by the Census Department:
- American Community Survey
- American Housing Survey
- Annual Surveys of Governments
- Census of Governments
- Annual Economic Surveys
- Decennial Census
- Economic Census
- Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO) Tabulation
- Population Estimates Program
- Puerto Rico Community Survey
Political polls from many sources collected in one place.
Cornell University Polls
Gallup delivers analytics and advice to help leaders and organizations solve their most pressing problems. Gallup knows more about the attitudes and behaviors of employees, customers, students and citizens than any other organization in the world.
Comprehensive database which includes most major statistical resources of international statistics from the United Nations.
From the World Bank. World Development Indicators plus other international indicators.
Offstats: Official Statistics on the Web
The OFFSTATS database provides access to free statistics from official sources on the web. Web links are arranged by country, region or subject. The database can be searched by a single category, or a combination of categories.
Pew Research Center
Track key national, political, economic and demographic trends over time using our regularly updated charts
Recent public opinion polling - political, business and economy polls.