Great Resources for Social Statistics

Pie Chart
Pie Chart

Do you get asked to find social and cultural statistics a lot in your work? Maybe you’re like me, and you just really enjoy browsing through data and seeing what’s there (there’s a reason my undergraduate degree’s in sociology). Well, just for you, here’s some of my favorite online resources for social and cultural statistics.

  1. United States Census Bureau – The mother lode of statistics for the United States. Of course, the decennial census is the big draw, but there’s all kinds of things on this site. Be sure to check out the American FactFinder and the American Community Survey.
  2. The Association of Religion Data Archives – Do you need information about religion and religious groups in the US? This is the place you’re most likely to find what you want. Like the census, the primary update is every ten years, but in between there’s all kinds of survey information added to the site. If you’re a visual kind of person, be sure to check out the GIS maps.
  3. Need to know how people voted in the last (or any!) US presidential election? Check out Dave Leip’s Atlas of U.S. Presidential Elections. He’s got election returns down to the county level for free, going all the way back to 1960, state level returns to 1824, and national returns all the way back to our first presidential election in 1789.
  4. For Canadian information, you can’t do any better than Statistics Canada. It’s kind of like the US Census Bureau site, but it has data from more than just the Canadian census. There’s questionnaires, surveys, economic data, and more.
  5. Want a more global reach? Try the United Nations statistical databases. They’re not as comprehensive as some of the national sites, but there’s information you’ll have a hard time finding for some countries here.
  6. Everybody loves a survey. And the grandfather of all surveying organizations in the US is Gallup. Whether it’s election polls, opinion surveys, or economic opinions, you’ll find it here. A nice touch is that if you’re interested in a particular topic, you can subscribe to be notified when a new report is available on that topic.
  7. Another major polling organization is the Pew Research Center. In addition to their general polling, they have special ongoing topics, such as the Pew Internet & American Life Project and the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life. They issue important (and fascinating) reports on a regular basis on a wide variety of topics.

I’m sure I’ve missed some, especially ones outside the US. If you have a favorite site I forgot to mention, let us know in the comments!

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