Afrobarometer covers 37 African countries, with data collected in seven waves since 1999. The data is publicly available and covers countries across Africa, though coverage of central Africa is more limited. The survey countries represent around three-quarters of the African population. This underutilized data is publicly available and includes topics such as democracy and politics, citizenship and identity, gender, security, corruption and international relations. The website includes an online data analysis tool, and the datasets can be downloaded in SPSS format.
American National Election Study (ANES)
The ANES is one of the most well-known election studies in the world because of the wealth of data it gathers about voters, identifiable down to the precinct level. Themes include voting behaviour and public opinion on a variety of topics. The study includes some panel studies, which follow the same respondents over a period of time to track changes in opinions and measure the effects of campaigns and events that occur over the period monitored. Data is available in a variety of formats for free download after registration.
The Arab Barometer has covered the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) in four waves since 2006. The data is publicly available and asks a range of questions on topics including corruption, extremism, gender, political institutions and international relations. This is an underutilized resource for providing insights about public opinion in the MENA region. The website has a basic online analysis tool and data downloads in SPSS and comma separated values formats.
British Election Study (BES)
The BES includes survey data for every British general election since 1964. More recently, the study has incorporated online panels and experimental surveys to supplement the face-to-face data. Each post-election survey contains a set of questions that is standard for all participants in the Comparative Study of Electoral Systems (hosted on GESIS; see below), allowing comparison across countries. The website includes some basic online analysis tools for the most recent data. Data is normally available for download in SPSS and Stata formats.
Eurostat is the official statistics database maintained by the European Union (EU). It contains information about EU and European Economic Area (EEA) countries on many different themes, including population and social conditions, economy and finance, the environment, and regional statistics. Eurostat aims to provide cross-national data that is comparable. For example, even something that seems straightforward, like unemployment, may be measured differently in different countries and is therefore not really comparable. Eurostat data is collected using the same measurements and methodology across all participating countries in order to allow researchers to make meaningful comparisons. Users do not need to register in order to access most of the data. Some tools allow you to explore and manipulate the data online, and you can download the desired information in a variety of file formats.
GESIS is a German repository of survey data, which also hosts several European-level surveys, such as the Eurobarometer and the European Values Survey (EVS). Both the Eurobarometer and the EVS are influential pan-European public opinion polls. While the EVS is only run slightly more than once per decade, the standard Eurobarometer runs twice a year, with standing questions on the EU, immigration, the environment, the economy and labour market, defence, health, and culture. Standard Eurobarometer surveys are supplemented with special surveys, which focus more narrowly on a particular topic; flash surveys, which are requested by the European Commission and are more likely to be used in policymaking; and qualitative studies to examine a topic in greater depth. GESIS also hosts the International Social Survey Programme (ISSP), the Comparative Study of Electoral Systems (CSES), and the European Election Studies (EES). Access to the data is normally free of charge but does require registration. Online tools include basic analysis and variable and questionnaire search facilities. The datasets are available in a variety of formats, usually for SPSS and Stata.
GESIS online analysis tool
Several of the GESIS studies are available with online analysis, including keyword search facilities to identify suitable variables across a range of surveys. These can be found on ZACAT.
Harvard Dataverse Network
Based at Harvard University, the Dataverse is a repository of data from researchers throughout the world who are willing to share the data they have collected in order to allow other researchers to test their findings and explore their data. Unlike most of the other resources listed in this section, the Dataverse is not specific to the social sciences, but it does contain contributions from social science researchers. Data can be found through keyword searches and is freely available after registration. Files are available for download in a variety of formats.
International Consortium for Political and Social Research (ICPSR)
Based at the University of Michigan, this repository contains a wealth of data. Though it has a bias towards the USA that is reflective of its hosts, it also contains the datasets for Afrobarometer, Eurobarometer, the Israeli Election Study, and the China Multi-Generational Panel, to name a few. You can browse by topic, search for variables, and find publications based on the datasets. The ICPSR also has a YouTube channel with tutorials on using the resources and SPSS. Some datasets have online analysis tools to explore the data before deciding whether to download it.
Office for National Statistics (ONS)
The ONS is the UK government’s official statistics repository. Perhaps its most famous survey is the census, but it contains a wide array of other official statistics, including crime, education, economy and labour market, people and populations, and government. Statistics are gathered at local, regional, and national levels, though some of the micro-level data is protected due to the sensitivity of the data. Some of the data can be explored using online tools, with quite a variety of interactive maps. Most of the data is available to download as Excel spreadsheets, which require some manipulation to convert them for use in statistics programmes like SPSS. While you can perform many basic statistical functions in Excel, the more advanced functions are much more straightforward in software packages designed for statistics.
Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD)
The OECD keeps statistics on more than just its member states and on a wide variety of social themes – not just the economy! It covers demography and population, development, education, environment, and technology, to name a few non-economic themes. It is also the repository for data from the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA), among other international surveys. Core data can be explored on the website and can be downloaded in Excel formats. To gain access to the complete databases, you must have a subscription to the OECD’s iLibrary. Many universities do subscribe to the database, so be sure to check whether you might have institutional access. The iLibrary includes extensive interactive tools and allows downloads of tables and charts.
UK Data Service
The UK Data Service (formerly the Economic and Social Data Service) contains both qualitative and quantitative data from thousands of research projects as well as official government data. You can read interview transcripts and download survey results, and there are even multimedia projects. You can search for data by theme, country, and keyword. Core themes include ageing, the labour market, housing and the local environment, crime and social control, and health and health behaviour. Some of the data held comes from long-running, government-sponsored surveys, such as the UK census, the British Election Study, and the British Social Attitudes Survey. Other data is shared from specific research projects. The projects were not all undertaken in the UK, and some contain cross-national and foreign-language data. Some of the data can be explored using online tools, but most of the datasets must be downloaded to explore them. You must register in order to use the service, and some data sets are protected and require a higher level of clearance due to the level of anonymity or sensitivity of the data.
UK Data Service international aggregated data online analysis tool
The UK Data Service also produces a series of guides, including a guide to navigating other platforms’ online data services. This includes guides to a range of UN and OECD data. The UK Data Service has brought some World Bank, OECD, International Monetary Fund, UN, International Energy Agency, and Human Rights Atlas data into its online analysis tool. The UKDS online tool is laid out using the same formatting and options as the OECD’s own interface.
United Nations Statistics Division
The United Nations keeps statistics on population development worldwide, including demographics, fertility and mortality, and migration data. You can use the tools to explore individual indicators online or can download the data in Excel format, which will require some tweaking to use in a dedicated statistics programme. The UN Statistics Division is the core website for all data and will redirect you to appropriate divisions (such as the UN Development Programme, or the Population Division) based on the data you are looking for. Much of the data is collected annually. Accessing time series data is not always straightforward, and gaps in the data occur frequently, but the UN has a wealth of cross-national, comparative data. No registration is required to access the data.
The World Bank also monitors a series of development indicators around the world, including additional topics not normally covered by the UN Development Programme, such as aid effectiveness, climate change, and energy, in addition to general development indicators. Much of the data can be manipulated online in graphical and tabular format and is available freely for download in Excel formats. Excel data can be imported into SPSS to run more complex analysis. This is most easily done if the variable names occur in the first row of the spreadsheet. The data are generally available without requiring registration.
European Social Survey (ESS)
The ESS is a cross-national survey that has been conducted every two years in Europe since 2002. It includes 36 countries across a broad geographic definition of Europe (including Israel, the Russian Federation, and Turkey, for example) and asks a variety of questions on politics, trust, media, well-being and society, values, and socio-demographics. Each round also contains extra questions on a specific theme. Round 7, which was conducted in 2014 and is used for the examples in this textbook, includes extra questions on immigration. The ESS is used in many publications by researchers around the world, so you can always check your findings against other researchers by conducting a literature search. The ESS website also has a bibliography database, which indexes publications that use ESS data. The data used in this book is the ESS round 7 integrated file, edition 2.2. Please keep in mind that adjustments to the data may have occurred since the publication of this book that mean your results do not perfectly reflect the results in this book. You are strongly recommended to use the accompanying syntax documents to re-run the results using your version of the data file.
UN Human Development Data
The UN Human Development data has been collected annually by the UNDP since 1990. It collects a wide variety of data to measure development and quality of life beyond economic indicators. It combines several variables to create a Human Development Index each year, which ranks how countries are doing overall, including variables like literacy, health, poverty, and employment. Data is also collected on gender and economic inequality, refugees and immigration, prison populations, and some public opinion questions. Like the ESS, the UN data is used by many researchers each year in addition to the UN’s own annual development reports.