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Adversity Index ( and Moody's
MSNBC's Adversity Index, also known as the Elkhart Project, is "a measure of the economic health of 384 metro areas and the 50 states." The project takes the form of an interactive map which displays monthly snapshots since June of 1994, with values for employment, single-family housing starts, housing costs, and industrial production, each expressed in terms of percentage change from the previous year. Those four numbers are then used to label the economy of each state or metro area as expansion, at risk, recovery, or in recession. Unfortunately the site's claim that it seeks to provide "the hard numbers around these hard times" does not extend to allowing downloads of the actual data. However, the display and the accompanying news analysis are of interest for identifying trends.

African Census Analysis Project (ACAP) (Population Studies Center, University of Pennsylvania)
The African Census Analysis Project, a collaboration between the Population Studies Center at the University of Pennsylvania and various African governments, is dedicated to preserving and disseminating African census microdata. The first round of the project has focused on 1970-1990. The collection in 2009 includes 55 censuses for 26 African nations. The project's platform for disseminating the data is called the Pan-African Census Explorer (PACE). Users will be able to choose among three levels of access: Census Navigator, Census Guide, and Census Explorer. The Navigator is the only level available as of December 2009, providing standard tables and documentation. Census Guide will allow dynamic queries on grouped data to produce tables and maps. Census Explorer, the most detailed and powerful level, will allow access to microdata for subsetting and flexible analysis. Free registration is required to use the PACE.

American Community Survey (ACS) (U.S. Bureau of the Census)
The U.S. Census Bureau launched the full implementation of the American Community Survey (ACS) in January 2005, on track to replace the decennial census "long form" for the year 2010. The ACS is sent out to 250,000 households monthly, or approximately 1 in 40 households annually. For areas with populations of 65,000 or more, ACS annual data will be available beginning in the summer of 2006. For areas with populations between 20,000 and 65,000, annual data will first be released in the summer of 2008 based on rolling 3-year averages. For smaller areas down to the tract level, annual data will debut in the summer of 2010 based on rolling 5-year averages. ACS helps local officials, community leaders and businesses understand the changes taking place in their communities. It is the premier source for detailed information about the American people and workforce.

American FactFinder (U.S. Bureau of the Census)
American FactFinder provides access to data about the United States, Puerto Rico and the Island Areas. The data in American FactFinder come from several censuses and surveys. They include the American Community Survey, the American Housing Survey, Annual Economic Surveys, Annual Surveys of Governments, the Census of Governments, the Commodity Flow Survey, the Decennial Census, the Economic Census, the Economic Census of the Island Areas, the Survey of Business Owners, the Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO) Tabulation, the Population Estimates Program, and the Puerto Rico Community Survey. Starting in June 2019, American FactFinder will have no new data releases. Its contents are migrating to Learn more about by watching this recorded webinar.

American Housing Survey (AHS) (U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development)
The American Housing Survey (AHS, formerly the Annual Housing Survey) collects national data every other year from a fixed sample of about 50,000 homes plus new construction. Additional samples are taken from metro areas every 4-6 years, to measure local conditions. The AHS includes data on apartments, single-family homes, mobile homes, vacant homes, family composition, income, housing and neighborhood quality, housing costs, equipment, fuels, size of housing unit, and recent movers. Data and documentation are available on the HUD USER web site.

Basic Tables: 1990 Demographic Profile Generator (Urban Information Center, University of Missouri-St. Louis)
"This application generates a single 1990 'Basic Tables' (demographic profile) report for any of the supported geographic units, including census tract, block group, city (no size limit), 5-digit ZIP code, state, county or metro area for anywhere in the United States. Enter only codes relevant to the area for which you want data." Although this is a terrific resource, it is not necessarily easy to use -- primarily because the selection is geographic code-based rather than clicking on a selection list. The good news is that there is a Lots of Helpful Examples document to help get you started; this document provides links to places that can help you get the codes you need.

Census Bureau FTP site (U.S. Bureau of the Census)
For those who like to ferret out files without the annoyances of a fancy front end --check out the census_1980, census_1990, and census_2000 directories.

Census Product Catalog (U.S. Bureau of the Census)
The Census Product Catalog provides descriptions and ordering contact information for Census Bureau products -- CD-ROMs, DVDs, publications, maps and other statistical and reference products. This is now the only product catalog on the Census web site; e-sales were discontinued in Fall 2007. The catalog contains brief product descriptions but no prices; customers must call the Customer Service Center for price and ordering information. (U.S. Bureau of the Census)
The U.S. Census Bureau has a new platform for visitors to access its data and digital content. Surveys and programs on the new platform include 2017 Economic Census and 2018 American Community Survey. American FactFinder and DataFerrett will be replaced by this new platform. Starting in June 2019, American FactFinder will have no new data releases. On the new platform, visitors can type in words or phrases in one simple search box or use advanced search by topics, geographies, years, surveys, and industries. Data can be downloaded in CSV format. OnTheMap, MyCongressional District, and many other tools will continue to be available to Census data users. Check out Data Gems for experts' tips and How-to documents about this new microdata analysis system.

Finfacts Worldwide Cost of Living Survey (Finfacts)
The FinFacts Worldwide Cost of Living Survey provides information related to the cost of living in cities throughout the world. Tabulated information is provided on the cities with the highest cost as well as cost of living comparisons. The site also has an internal link to Worldwide quality of life rankings.

German Socio-Economic Panel (GSOEP) (Deutsches Institut fuer Wirtschaftsforschung (DIW))
The GSOEP is a longitudinal study of private households across Germany, ongoing since 1984. Some of the many topics include household composition, occupational biographies, employment, earnings, health and satisfaction indicators. The GSOEP web site carries information about the study, including the questionnaires and a web interface to the data (SOEPinfo) that allows for frequency queries and item correspondence. Also available is contact information for obtaining the data directly from GSOEP. [NOTE: DISC has 1984-2002 available on CD-ROM in the library, Study #CA-511-001; more current data releases are available for purchase from GSOEP.]

Home Mortgage Disclosure Act (HMDA) Public Data (Federal Financial Institutions Examination Council (FFIEC))
This site makes available reports from public data mandated by the Home Mortgage Disclosure Act (HMDA) 0f 1975. Aggregate reports and disclosure reports from individual financial institutions back to 1999 are available online in PDF. Users can also retrieve HMDA disclosure reports from individual financial institutions. The FFIEC carries a similar site at for reports resulting from the Community Reinvestment Act (CRA) of 1977, meant to encourage depository institutions to help meet the credit needs of the communities in which they operate.

Housing Topics (U.S. Bureau of the Census)
This page from the U.S. Census Bureau offers socio-economic statistics related to a variety of housing topics which include housing facts, survey data, homeownership data, housing affordability, housing vacancy data, housing patterns (residential segregation), and more. Data sources include the: American Community Survey, American Housing Survey, Decennial Census of Housing, Housing Vacancy Survey, Residential Finance Survey, and Survey of Market Absorption. Related websites for housing data are also included.

HUD USER (U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development)
The HUD USER site is supported and managed by the U.S. Department of Housing & Urban Development's Office of Policy Development and Research (PD&R). It hosts research, publications, periodicals, datasets, a Bibliographic Database, the Regulatory Barriers Clearinghouse (RBC), and more. It provides interested researchers with access to original datasets generated by PD&R-sponsored data collection efforts, including the American Housing Survey, HUD Median Family Income Limits, Fair Market Rents, and Low-Income Housing Tax Credit Data. This data is provided in various formats, including PDF, Excel, Word, dBase, ASCII, and SAS. Unique data displays available on HUD USER include GIS Maps and Infographics.

IEA Census State Data Center - Arkansas (University of Arkansas at Little Rock, College of Business)
The web site of the IEA Census State Data Center for Arkansas features online census data for Arkansas, both from the decennial census and the American Community Survey.

Kuwait - Central Statistical Bureau (State of Kuwait Central Statistical Bureau)
Socio-economic and agricultural statistics for the State of Kuwait are published by its Central Statistical Bureau. Statistical reports are downloadable in pdf format. Most reports are in Arabic but some are in English and Arabic.

Madison Neighborhood Indicators Project (City of Madison, Wisconsin)
The Madison Neighborhood Indicators Project program, funded by the City of Madison (Wisconsin) and hosted by UW-Madison's Applied Population Lab, offers a single year of selected data indicators plus mapping capability, covering the city of Madison as a whole and 70 neighborhoods, also organized as 57 planning districts. Indicators for each neighborhood include a basic area & population profile, public safety indicators, health & well-being indicators, community action & involvement indicators, economic vitality indicators, and housing quality & availability indicators. Mapping and neighborhood-comparison tools are available on the site. Note that some indicators, particularly relating to health and family well-being, are suppressed at the neighborhood level due to privacy concerns. The project launched as a pilot in 2008 with 5 neighborhoods, and went city-wide in October 2009.

Metropolitan Racial and Ethnic Change--Census 2000 (Lewis Mumford Center for Comparative Urban and Regional Research, State University of New York at Albany)
These pages from the Lewis Mumford Center offer information and analyses of how the racial and ethnic composition of metropolitan areas has shifted from 1990 to 2000, and how increasing diversity is experienced at the level of local neighborhoods. The data page of the site offers 11 topic choices, relying on Census data, including segregation in the population as a whole, school segregation, and homeowners/renters. For each topic, there are 3 ways to view the data: select a metro area (HTML output), sortable lists (again HTML, but the tables can be re-sorted with a mouse click), or download as Excel files.

National Neighborhood Indicators Project (NNIP) (Urban Institute)

The National Neighborhood Indicators Project (NNIP) is a collaborative effort by the Urban Institute and local partners to further the development and use of neighborhood-level information systems in local policymaking and community building. With 35 partners as of November 2011, from Atlanta to Washington, the NNIP fosters local projects to gather and use local data to effect community change. Note that reports of partner activities are often in PDF. Access to actual data may take considerable drilling-down into partner web sites.

Visit DISC in person to use the Urban Institutes flagship data product, the Neighborhood Change Database (NCDB), to analyze decennial Census data at the tract level from 1970 through 2000.

National Survey of Families and Households (University of Wisconsin-Madison)
Contains the most current edition of those data, right here at the UW. After reading the online documentation, follow the link to the ftp site for downloading. There is also an excellent bibliography on the site.

PolicyMap (The Reinvestment Fund)

PolicyMap is a geographic information system that lets users map, graph, and organize data relevant to neighborhood planning and economic revitalization. The site carries data on demographics, real-estate, crime, income, education, and jobs - over 4,000 indicators. Depending on the data, maps and reports can be focused on areas as small as block groups or census tracts, or as large as states.

The site has many components available with a free registration, and others available to subscribers only. The free data comes from such agencies as the Census, the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), the National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS), the Social Security Administration (SSA), and other US government agencies. Fee-based, subscriber-only data comes mostly from Claritas, a consumer-data and demographics firm that produces projections and annual small-area estimates. Subscribers can also upload data and create custom mapping regions. (UW-Madison does not subscribe). A complete list of PolicyMap data can be found at

Population Europe Resource Finder and Archive (PERFAR) (Max Planck Society for the Advancement of Science)
The Population Europe Resource Finder and Archive (PERFAR) links policies, data, and research for users to explore population developments. It is designed to meet the information needs of researchers, policy makers, civil society organizations and journalists. It includes detailed information on policies over time, a link catalog to socio-economic and demographic data, and an online repository of research outcomes. It covers countries outside of Europe as well.

Project on Human Development in Chicago Neighborhoods (PHDCN) (Inter-university Consortium for Political and Social Research (ICPSR) and Harvard School of Public Health; John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation)

According to the web site at ICPSR, "The Project on Human Development in Chicago Neighborhoods (PHDCN) is a large-scale, interdisciplinary study of how families, schools, and neighborhoods affect child and adolescent development. It was designed to advance the understanding of the developmental pathways of both positive and negative human social behaviors." Three types of quantitative data are available as of May 2010:

  1. Community Surveys, measuring the structural conditions and organization of neighborhoods in Chicago in 1994-95.
  2. Systematic Social Observation data, collected in 1995 by videotaping sampled city blocks and coding characteristics.
  3. A Longitudinal Cohort Study collected three waves of data (1994-1997, 1997-1999, and 2000-2001) from a sample of children, adolescents, young adults, and their primary caregivers.
  4. An Infant Assessment unit of the Longitudinal Cohort Study.

RAND Corporation Public Use Databases (The RAND Corporation)
The mission of the RAND Corporation, a non-partisan non-profit organization headquartered in California, is "to help improve policy and decisionmaking through research and analysis." As part of their research work on social and economic policy issues, RAND makes available a collection of public use databases at this site. The databases on the RAND site include: Asset and Health Dynamics Among the Oldest Old (AHEAD); Displaced New Orleans Residents Survey (DNORS); Family Life Surveys; Health and Fertility Archive; Human Biospecimen Database; Los Angeles Family and Neighborhood Survey; Worldwide Terrorism Incidents; and more.

Resource Center for Minority Data (RCMD) (Inter-university Consortium for Political and Social Research (ICPSR))
The Resource Center for Minority Data (RCMD) is one of a growing number of special-purpose subsets within the vast data collections of the ICPSR. The focus of the RCMD is data for comparative analysis of issues affecting racial and ethnic minority populations in the United States. The subject coverage of the selected studies runs the gamut from education to housing to poverty to political participation. RCMD data falls into two general categories: studies that focus specifically on minority populations, such as the National Black Election Studies series; and studies with large enough sample sizes or ethnic/racial oversampling to permit meaningful analysis of issues that affect race and ethnic minority populations, such as the American Housing Survey series. While documentation is freely browsable, data download is available only to ICPSR member institutions, including UW-Madison.

State and County QuickFacts (U.S. Bureau of the Census)
QuickFacts provides statistics for all states and counties, and for cities and towns with a population of 5,000 or more. Its data are derived from: Population Estimates, American Community Survey, Census of Population and Housing, Current Population Survey, Small Area Health Insurance Estimates, Small Area Income and Poverty Estimates, State and County Housing Unit Estimates, County Business Patterns, Nonemployer Statistics, Economic Census, Survey of Business Owners, Building Permits.

State of the Cities Data System (SOCDS) at HUDuser (U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development)
The SOCDS provides data for individual Metropolitan Areas, Central Cities, and Suburbs on the following subjects:

  • demographic and economic characteristics of the population
  • unemployment rates
  • jobs, business establishments, and average pay since the 1990s
  • violent and property crime rates
  • local building permits
  • State of the Cities Data Systems: HMDA Data
  • city and suburban government finance
Links to download the raw data files are also provided.

The ACCRA Cost of Living Index (The Council for Community and Economic Research (C2ER))
The Council for Community and Economic Research (C2ER) has collected and published cost of living index data since 1968. Data are organized into these categories: food, housing, utilities, transportation, health care, miscellaneous goods and services, and a composite index at the metropolitan statistical area (MSA) level and at the county level. They are released quarterly. Learn more about ACCRA Cost of Living Indices methodology. Its products are fee-based.

The Neighborhood Atlas (Amy J.H. Kind)
This online interactive tool allows visitors to rank and map neighborhoods according to socioeconomic disadvantage metrics. Researchers can download data and merged them with other data sources to examine how neighborhood disadvantage impacts health. Neighborhood Atlas updates and expands the Area Deprivation Index (ADI), a measure created by the Health Resources & Services Administration (HRSA) to the Zip+4 zip codes. It presents data on socio-economic factors including poverty, education, housing and employment indicators drawn from US Census data. The Neighborhood Atlas is free but requires visitors to register before they can download data.

The US Counties IN Profile (Stats Indiana and Indiana Business Research Center, Indiana University Kelley School of Business)
"The US Counties IN Profile" allows users to pick a state and county and see how they are ranked in terms of various statistical categories. Categories include population, number of households, labor force, unemployment rate, per capita personal income, poverty rate, and many others. Users can choose the state, and then choose a county and also see how the county ranks in terms of other counties within the state. Also available are comparisons between two counties. Data is provided in HTML tables only.

U.N. Social Indicators (United Nations Statistics Division)
Most-recently-collected year's worth of basic figures for many countries, in HTML tables, in these categories: population, child-bearing, youth and elderly populations, education, human settlements, literacy, water supply and sanitation, income and economic activity, housing, and unemployment.

U.S. Census of Population and Housing Basics (Beth Harper, Government Documents Reference Librarian, University of Wisconsin--Madison)
Beth Harper, a Government Documents reference librarian at the University of Wisconsin--Madison, compiled this annotated bibliography of web sites regarding the U.S. Census.

United States Historical Census Data Browser (University of Virginia and Inter-University Consortium for Political and Social Research (ICPSR))
Data presented here describes the people and the economy of the U.S. for each state and county from 1790 to 1960 as provided by U.S. Census results.

Windows on Urban Poverty (Bruton Center and University of Texas at Dallas)
The Windows on Urban Poverty site takes Census data from 1970 through 2000 to map the geographic dimension of poverty in the United States. The user can select a city or metropolitan area, view the location of high-poverty census tracts, and observe the changes in high-poverty areas over time. The maps can also show race, ethnicity, population density, housing value and housing age. The user interface is a simplified GIS system; for a more complex mapping tool covering the same data, come to DISC and use the Census Neighborhood Change CD-ROM. Note: the Windows on Urban Poverty site was down 1/24/07 due to hackers.

World Bank Data (World Bank)
The World Bank launched its World Bank Data site in April 2010, an open-data initiative freely offering indicators and statistics about development that previously were accessible only by subscription. The Data Catalog on the site includes World Development Indicators (UW-Madison previously subscribed), Global Development Finance, Africa Development Indicators, Millennium Development Indicators, and more. The products grouped together in the searchable "Databank" comprise over 2000 indicators, some of which go back as far as 50 years; products from the Databank and others as well can be downloaded in Excel or CSV formats.

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