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Statistics & Quantitative Research

How to Convince with Numbers Prof. Halpern Spring 2014

Basics

The US government, together with State governments, constitutes one of the biggest collectors, aggregators and distributors of statistical information.

 

USA.gov is very general place to get an idea about what government agencies might have statistics on a particular topic.
•Make sure to include words such as  "Statistics" "Rates" or "Tables" in your search, since this website includes a lot of other information as well.

 

Interpreting Statistics

US Census & Demographic Data

Population data on the federal, state and local level; centennial, with annual updates for selected communities via the American Community Survey

•Use Quickfacts to get basic population data by state

•Remember to read the Information about census categories such as "race"
•The Definitions are important (e.g. "Race" is a "self-identified" category)
•Definitions have changed over time, so when you compare different years, you may end up "Comparing apples and oranges."

Statistical Abstract of the United States

•Earlier editions going back to 1878 are also available on this site

•Discontinued as of Oct. 2011 - use only for older data

 

•Always read the top of each table that defines the measuring units and other parameters pertaining to the data
•Always read the bottom of each table to find out the Source of the data, including agencies or organizations that collected the data - You might want to go directly to a particular source to get more data on the same topic.

LocalLabs Socio-Economic Data

LocalLabs  "makes ... socioeconomic data freely and practically available. [It] covers several hundred points of demographic data for virtually every zip code, city, county, and state in the US." Easy to understand and use tabular displays; most data are from the US census.