DPLS News, May 2000

Please note: Older issues of the newsletter are likely to contain
broken links -- the newsletter is presented here "as published."

DPLS News contains articles about local, national, and international data issues.
It is published twice a semester by the library staff.

Editor: Joanne Juhnke, Associate Special Librarian
Contributors:
Lu Chou, Special Librarian; Cindy Severt, Senior Special Librarian;
& Emily Bounds, Library Assistant

May 2000


Table of Contents

Amid Public Debate, The Count Goes On
OECD Education at a Glance 1999 CD-ROM
1998 Data Available: NLSY 79 and Work History
     CD-ROMs
Researcher's Notes
IASSIST 2000 in Chicago, June 7-10, 2000
Mark Your Calendars...
DPLS Staff News

Recent Release of Studies from the Roper Center
Internet Corner
     The Pulse: A Consumer's Guide to Public Opinion
           Data on the Web
     The PACO Project
     WISQARS
     USITC Interactive Tariff and Trade Databases


Amid Public Debate, The Count Goes On

The initial numbers are in, and the news is good.

In an April 19th press release, the Census Bureau announced that mailback rates for the 2000 Census questionnaires had reached 65%, matching the 1990 mailback rate and reversing a decades-long trend in declining participation.

These rates have come about despite a groundswell of complaint and skepticism, particularly about the long form. Prominent politicians have called the long form into question: Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott advised constituents to skip questions they felt were too intrusive, and presidential candidate George W. Bush indicated that he might not fill out the entire long form himself if he were to receive one. (He got a short form.)

While there is no clear evidence linking public skepticism and the current response rate, the response rate for the long forms is lagging behind that for the short form. To complete the count, half a million enumerators will now blanket the country from April 27 to July 7 contacting non-respondents and those who skipped questions.

The uproar about the 2000 Census may well have more effect on future censuses than on the 2000 count itself. Census questions must be approved by Congress, and the long form questions for 2000 were approved with little fanfare. However, the concerns raised in this election year may mean increased scrutiny for future Census efforts.

One ongoing Census Bureau project that is already receiving increased attention is the American Community Survey (ACS), an undertaking designed to replace the long form before the 2010 decennial count. The ACS would be distributed to 250,000 households a month rather than once every ten years. A pilot program has been underway since 1996, with full implementation planned for 2003.

The Census Bureau intends the ACS to provide more timely data than the current decennial collection allows. The survey will be more flexible than the long form, allowing more frequent changes. In addition, since the survey is to be an ongoing effort, the data can be gathered by a trained staff of permanent employees rather than the temporary enumerators hired for the decennial count.

The ACS is still slated to include the long form questions that have recently come under attack as "too intrusive," but the Census Bureau hopes that the incremental nature of the survey will allow for more effective education about privacy guarantees and the uses of the data.

For more information about the ACS, visit the Census site at http://www.census.gov/CMS/www/index_main.htm. ACS data will be available through the new Census data interface, American FactFinder, at http://factfinder.census.gov.

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CD-ROM logoOECD Education at a Glance 1999 CD-ROM

New at DPLS, the OECD Education at a Glance CD-ROM provides access to a set of comparative statistics and indicators on educational systems and policies in OECD countries in 1995 or 1996. It is useful for analyzing and measuring the current state of education internationally. Topics include: how human and financial resources are invested in education; how education and learning systems operate and evolve; and the returns on investment in education.

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CD-ROM logo1998 Data Available: NLSY 79 and Work History CD-ROMs

The NLSY 79 is a nationally representative sample of 12,686 young men and women who were 14-22 years old when they were first surveyed in 1979. The 1998 interview repeated all the NLSY 79 core modules, collecting additional information in the marriage module. A self-administrated supplement on drug usage was also included, and respondents age 40 and older were asked questions about their health. The work history CD-ROM summarizes the NLSY 79 respondents' work experiences from 1978 to 1998. Each respondent's week-by-week longitudinal work history is arranged in three arrays: labor force status, dual job status, and hours worked. Identification variables allow users to link the work history data to the respondent's main record.

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Researcher's Notes
by Kristine Minski

As a first year graduate student in economics, I am currently working on an applied paper for Economics 880: Quantitative Economic Policy. While most of my classes this year have been theory, this particular course has offered me the possibility of doing applied research in any area of interest to me. A long list of possible topics came to mind as I asked myself, "If I could research anything, what would it be?" Of course, the list was soon reduced by the next logical question, "Can I obtain data for this idea?" That's where DPLS came in to help me.

The purpose of my paper is to develop a model to estimate the predicted probability of a currency crisis given the current levels of certain domestic and external financial variables. My particular model will focus on Latin America, though similar models have been done for other regions and groups of countries. But where to find data on financial variables, for, say, Peru in 1982? DPLS introduced me to the International Financial Statistics CD-ROM, published annually by the IMF. Tables of time series data on many financial variables for hundreds of countries are available. Data can be downloaded by frequency (monthly, quarterly, annually), by country, or both. The interface for the data is very user-friendly.

The staff of DPLS has been essential in helping me use the data, spending time with me and going out of their way to show me how to use the interface. And just so I don't forget what they've spent valuable time showing me, they've posted "quick reference" guides to refresh my memory about where and how to save data.

At mid-semester, first year economics students could be heard saying to each other, "Have you found your data yet? Go to DPLS-they're great!" It really rings true.

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IASSIST 2000 in Chicago, June 7-10, 2000

The twenty-sixth annual conference of the International Association for Social Science Information Services and Technology (IASSIST) will be held on the campus of Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois on June 7-10, 2000. This year's conference, Data in the Digital Library: Charting the Future of Social, Spatial and Government Data, emphasizes the strengthening relationships between archives and libraries in managing, preserving and providing access to "digital collections."

IASSIST conferences bring together data professionals, data producers, and data analysts from around the world who are engaged in the creation, acquisition, processing, maintenance, distribution, preservation, and use of numeric social science data for research and instruction. For program and registration information (deadline is May 16, 2000), see http://www.src.uchicago.edu/datalib/ia2000/.

Program highlights include opening plenary session speaker Ken Prewitt, Director, U.S. Bureau of the Census. Other session topics include, among other things, the Data Documentation Initiative (DDI), confidentiality, financial and economic data resources, and poster sessions.

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Mark Your Calendars...

DPLS will be closed June 7-9 for IASSIST 2000!


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DPLS Staff News

This month we bid a fond farewell to Emily Bounds, our student Library Assistant since March of 1999. Emily will be graduating this spring with a degree in Library and Information Studies.

For the past year Emily has been responsible for responding to online reference questions, preparing datasets for inclusion in our online Archive, converting paper documents to electronic format, and contributing to the DPLS website. Emily's work has been of immense value to the daily operation of DPLS. We wish her all the best as she embarks on her professional career.

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Recent Release of Studies from the Roper Center

The Roper Center for Public Opinion Research, http://www.ropercenter.uconn.edu/, has announced the availability of new survey data from ABC News/Washington Post, the Gallup Organization, the Los Angeles Times and the Minneapolis Star Tribune.

Issues covered in the ABC News/Washington Post polls include opinions regarding the 2000 presidential candidates and the future of the current presidential couple's marriage. Topics covered in the latest installment of surveys from the Gallup Organization range from material relating to Y2K to opinions regarding the Elian Gonzalez case. Questions from a Minneapolis Star Tribune poll address the state's reactions to Governor Jesse Ventura and also the outdoor recreational habits of Minnesota residents. For more information on obtaining data through DPLS' Roper Center subscription, please contact DPLS staff.

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 Internet Corner

The Pulse: A Consumer's Guide to Public Opinion Data on the Web

According to the Economic Policy Institute (EPI), "assumptions about public attitudes now play a critical role in defining the limits of political debate." The Pulse, a section of EPI's web site, sets out to inform consumers through freely available public opinion poll results on the web with an emphasis on economic issues.

The Pulse features three sections:

  • Take the Pulse includes EPI analyses of polling on particular issues (Social Security, trade, etc.)
  • Forage for Data provides links to a variety of general polling data sources online
  • Go to the Issues offers annotated links to polling data sources that focus on particular issues

The Pulse may be found at http://www.epinet.org/pulse/pulse.html.

 

The PACO Project: Advancing Panel Comparability

The PACO Project: Advancing Panel Comparability Various countries around the world have for many years conducted household panel surveys, such as the Panel Study of Income Dynamics (PSID) in the United States. The PACO (Panel Comparability) Project has created a combined database to allow cross-national comparisons between the various studies. The project currently includes panel data from 8 countries: UK, France, Germany, Luxembourg, Poland, Hungary, Spain, and the United States. Variables focus on income, demography, and labor force.

The address of the PACO site is http://www.ceps.lu/paco/pacopres.htm. The site describes the PACO project and how to order the PACO database, as well as providing information and links to web sites for the individual countries' panels.

 

WISQARS: Web-based Injury Statistics Query and Reporting System

WISQARS (pronounced "whiskers") is a new project of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, designed to allow custom queries for injury-related mortality data. WISQARS combines mortality data gathered by the National Center for Health Statistics and population data from the Census Bureau, for the years 1981 to 1997. Two report formats are available: Injury Mortality Reports and Leading Causes of Death Reports. Both reports can be produced by year, age, race, sex, Hispanic origin, and state.

WISQARS can be accessed at http://www.cdc.gov/ncipc/wisqars/. To guide new WISQARS users, the site includes frequently asked questions and a help file to explain the data and definitions.

 

USITC Interactive Tariff and Trade Databases

The U.S. International Trade Commission has created a web site providing searchable databases on tariffs and trade from their own data collection along with information from the U.S. Department of Commerce and the U.S. Treasury.

The flagship database at this site is the ITC Trade Dataweb, which allows users to generate reports on U.S. imports and exports, by product, by country. Free registration is required for this section of the site. Other databases include: 2000 Tariff Database, 1999 Tariff Database, Summary U.S. Trade by region, and more.

The USITC databases are available at http://dataweb.usitc.gov/.

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