DPLS News, December 1997

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DPLS News
December 1997

Table of Contents

Wealth of OECD Health Data

rBGH Consumer Survey

Dynamics of Idealism

New Tool for International Trade

Internet Corner

A Fond Farewell


A Wealth of OECD Health Data

As reported in the December, 1996 newsletter, the achievements of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) are numerous and important, and include annual surveys of the economies of its members and many specialized studies. The data collected by the OECD are recognized as some of the best available for cross-national comparative studies. Since 1991 the OECD has been publishing OECD Health Data in a continuing attempt to develop uniform, standardized health statistics.

The OECD Health Data 1997 is an interactive database comprising systematically collated data on a great number of key aspects of the health care systems in 29 OECD member countries. The CD-ROM and its related access software enables DPLS users to query OECD data files and analyze them in the form of tables, charts and maps, as well as to export data to other software packages (e.g., Excel, SAS).

The coverage of the dataset is very wide and, for a number of indicators, the time series go back to 1960. Over 750 series were selected according to whether they were relevant to the description of key aspects of health care systems, sufficiently consistent to enable cross-national comparisons, and were available in a significant number of countries. The OECD Health Data 1997 is the result of continuous refinement and improvement of the indicators by the Secretariat, member country statisticians, and users.

The files are classified by subject areas as follows (each providing detailed sub-menus):Medical symbol

  • health status of populations
  • inputs and throughputs
  • national expenditure on health
  • costs of illness
  • health care financing
  • social protection, life-style and environment
  • pharmaceutical activities
  • average length of stay and discharge rate
  • surgical and medical procedures, medical services fee
  • demographic references

The list of indicators is given in Annex 4 of the User Manual. The DPLS study number is QG-501-001.

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rBGH Consumer Survey

Wisconsin Consumer Attitudes Regarding Acceptance of Food-Related Biotechnology, 1990
Principal Investigator: Robin Douthitt, Professor, School of Human Ecology, UW-Madison
Producer: College of Letters and Science Survey Center, UW-Madison
Distributor: Data and Program Library Service, UW-Madison [CA-051-001]

In 1989 and 1990 the issue of synthetic growth hormones used in the dairy industry was widely covered by the mass media. Residents of Wisconsin--the leading dairy producing state in the nation--make an ideal population to study potential consumer response to the hormone's commercial use. Between February 26 and May 9 of 1990, a telephone survey was conducted to collect such information. A sample of 1,056 randomly selected households around the state was drawn. In each household an adult person who made most of the household’s food purchasing decisions was interviewed by telephone.

Information about respondents’ awareness of bovine growth hormone (rBGH) and bovine somatotropin (BST) usage on dairy cows and their opinions on mandatory rBGH labeling was collected. They were also asked how the price increase in non-rBGH treated dairy products would affect their milk purchases. The response rate of the survey was 69.2 percent, and approximately 75 percent were women. This dataset is accessible from the DPLS Online Archive: http://dpls.dacc.wisc.edu/bgh/

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Dynamics of Idealism

An exciting and historically valuable study, Dynamics of Idealism: Volunteers for Civil Rights 1965-1982, has recently been added to the DPLS Online Archive (http://dpls.dacc.wisc.edu/Idealism/). The principal investigators of this study are N.J. Demereth III, Michael T. Aiken, and Gerald Marwell, UW-Madison Professor of Sociology.

These data files represent survey questions asked of White and Black volunteers in the 1965 Summer Community Organization and Political Education (SCOPE) project of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) before and after a two and a half month voter registration effort in the Summer of 1965 in the South. An additional follow-up study was conducted in 1982. A few of the issues touched upon in the 1965 questionnaires (Wave I and Wave II) are: volunteer's attitudes toward racial and political issues, commitment to social change, prior experience with African Americans and activism, images of the White South, expectations of the African American community, characteristics of Black supporters, social relationships with African Americans, parents' attitudes, and perceived changes in the South.

The 1982 follow-up study (Wave III) focuses on such issues as the volunteer's memories and effects of the 1965 summer project, political participation and religious/humanitarian activities since 1965, evaluation of the importance of the issues concerning civil rights and progress for African Americans, and attitudes toward issues like civil rights, violence, the courts, and political change.

There was more than an 80% response rate for Wave I (spring) questionnaires, however the exact size of the population could not be calculated precisely. Wave II was administered by mail in the fall, with a 71% completion rate. There were 17 volunteers who only responded to the fall follow-up, for a total of 255 completed Wave I and II questionnaires. Wave III questionnaires were mailed to volunteers with 146 of the original sample (N=255) responding.

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New Tool for Int'l Trade

U.S. Imports, 1972-1994: Data and Concordances. Produced by Robert C. Feenstra. Davis: CA: Institute of Governmental Affairs, University of California, Davis, 1996 [CB-534-001].

For many years international trade research focused on theory because of a lack of easily accessible quantitative data. In recognition of the developing global marketplace, the U.S. Omnibus Trade and Competitiveness Act of 1988 mandated that access to international trade data and export promotion information be facilitated. As a result, the National Trade Data Bank (NTDB) became the Federal Government’s primary repository of trade related information. The NTDB is made publicly available through the Depository Library Program (e.g. the State Historical Society Library’s Government Documents collection), the Internet and CD-ROM.

The NTDB’s U.S. import and export statistics are an important component, but these data are limited in several ways. First, the series only goes back to 1990, leaving out the preceding two decades that marked growing international economic activity. Second, although earlier data can be obtained from the National Archives, they are formatted in a way that makes them difficult to use. Third, there have been frequent and confounding changes in commodity coding (classification) schemes including the major migration in 1988 from the domestic Tariff Schedule of the United States Annotated (TSUSA) to the international Harmonized Tariff System (HTS). The frequent changes in commodity codes makes time series work extremely difficult. Fourth, the user interfaces that accompany both the original Census CD-ROMs and the NTDB data are difficult for beginners to use and cumbersome for more sophisticated academic use.

A cooperative project spearheaded by Dr. Robert Feenstra of the University of California-Davis was undertaken to remedy these problems by providing access to annual import statistics from 1972 to 1994, along with detailed concordances tracking changes in classification schemes, on a single CD-ROM. In addition to the data and their documentation it was decided to include basic browsing and exporting capabilities with a simple dBase access program. The result is the U.S. Imports, 1972-1994: Data and Concordances CD-ROM.

Pragmatic decisions were made to provide only annual, rather than monthly files, and to provide port of entry information in aggregate form rather than as a variable, to reduce both the size and processing of the files. Along the way further efforts were made that dramatically increased the value of the data. The 7-digit TSUSA and 10-digit HTS data were merged with their alphabetic descriptions and their import-based Standard Industrial Classification (SIC) and Standard International Trade Classification (SITC) codes to make identification of commodities easier.

The country codes were standardized from the 4-digit Census classification to the more stable 6-digit United Nations classification scheme. Due to errors in the original data, the 1977 data had to be extensively corrected. Finally, because many users want to compare imports with domestic-based information (such as domestic production statistics) the project, expanding and improving upon a previous model, imputed domestic SIC codes (1972 basis, 4-digit) for the years 1972-1992. Similarly, import data were summed according to SITC codes (Revision 2, 5-digit) for 1972-1994.

These data are of tremendous use to anyone doing research on U.S. trade. Two other related data products at the DPLS are: World Trade Flow Data, 1970-1992 [CB-540-001], and U.S. Exports, 1972-1994.

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Internet Corner

Eurobarometer Polls

barometerThe European Union has a website for the most recent polls, which ask Europeans about their attitudes and knowledge about European unification and other social issues a few times each year. Western European countries have been cooperatively conducting the polls since 1974; the Eastern and Central Eurobarometer was begun in 1990. Highlights from the most recent polls are posted, as well as country-level tables in PDF format for downloading. (For data not on the website, visit the DPLS.) Currently the November 1997 poll is available, along with special topic surveys such as "Young Europeans," and "Europeans and Modern Biotechnology." http://europa.eu.int/en/comm/dg10/infcom/epo/eb.html

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Medical Expenditure Panel Survey, 1996

"MEPS is a nationally representative survey of health care use, expenditures, sources of payment, and insurance coverage for the U.S. civilian noninstitutionalized population, as well as a national survey of nursing homes and their residents." MEPS is co-sponsored by the Agency for Health Care Policy and Research (AHCPR) and the National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS). The dataset is divided into four components: (core) household, medical provider, insurance, and nursing home. Data are collected through a combination of computer-assisted in-person interviews, telephone interviews, and mailed surveys.

As the successor to the National Medical Expenditure Survey, 1987, and the National Medical Care Expenditure Survey, 1977, MEPS provides richer data by collecting information continuously at both the person and household levels through an overlapping panel design. The website provides recent findings, a data release schedule, documentation in PDF format, and selected ASCII (plain text) data files to download. Other data files, on CD-ROM only, are available through the DPLS, or may be ordered free of charge at AHCPR. http://www.meps.ahcpr.gov.

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Scout Report for the Social Sciencesscout logo

For over three years, the Internet Scout Project has been issuing the Scout Report via email, announcing quality sites of interest on the Internet to the academic community. Located in the Dept. of Computer Sciences at the UW-Madison, funded by a grant from the National Science Foundation, the Project has been adding new functions to help academic users of the Internet via its website. One example is the Scout Toolkit, which provides non-commercial information about the numerous Internet applications and browser plug-ins available on the World Wide Web.

Recently, the Social Sciences Scout Report was added to the repertoire, offering bi-weekly email updates to keep subscribers updated on working papers, e-journals, conferences, data and more in the Social Science disciplines. Just send a message to listserv@cs.wisc.edu. In the body of the message type the words, subscribe SRSOCSCI. Is your inbox too full? Then simply go to their "Current Awareness Metapage," at http://scout.cs.wisc.edu/scout/report/socsci/metapage.

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A Fond Farewell

The DPLS Staff would like to send their best wishes to Laura Guy, Senior Special Librarian, as she ventures into a new future in Colorado, following the close of the Fall semester. Her contributions have been immense and we flatlanders will miss her.

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End of December 1997 Newsletter.