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Economics

Before You Search

The resources on this guide are reliable sources for data and statistics you can use in research and course projects. However, the lists here are by no means comprehensive. When you search for data and statistics, it's a good idea to think ahead, and to have some specific ideas about what you're looking for:

Who collects which data? - When doing course readings, or research in scholarly & news articles, reports, or other sources, pay attention to sources for the data & statistics included in tables & used as evidence. What offices, agencies, NGOs, think tanks, etc. generate data and statistics?

Subject (What you want counted) - Try searching for data based on subjects, topics, or themes. If you know about multinational organizations focused on your area of interest, see if they collect and disseminate data.

Time - Do you want data that covers a particular time period?

Geographic Area - Is there a place you're interested in? How would you define the geographic area the data/statistics should cover?

Specific variables/characteristics - Do you want the data to be broken down or analyzed by gender, race, age, occupation, etc?

Consider sources of data, generally - Are you more likely to find the data you need from government sources, public opionion polls, academic researchers? Knowing this can help you target your search.

Global Data & Statistics

Tip: When using these sites, you can often access statistics by country (for an overview of multiple indicators) or by topic. You might try accessing statistics both ways to discover information you might be missing.

U.S. Data & Statistics

Evaluating Data Sources

As you evaluate data & statistics, you might want to consider:

Metadata - How much information can you glean about this dataset from its providers? For example, you might want to know: who collected or generated the set? How (or by whom) was the research funded? For a list of metadata variables to consider, check out this list from MIT.

Currency and Temporality - When was this data gathered? What time period does it cover? Does it provide a snapshot of a particular place/time/group/issue? There is often a lag between data collection and publication (with the U.S. Census, for example), so you may not be able to get up-to-the-minute information.

Who else uses this source? - When you're doing course readings, exploring secondary sources, and reading research reports that employ data and statistics, pay attention to the sources of data/statistics the authors are using. This may give you a sense of which sources are reliable, and can help you identify agencies and other bodies that collect or generate data you can use.