The US Census Bureau conducts an official census every 10 years, with the next one coming up in March 2010.  In between years the Bureau conducts a variety of smaller-scale nationwide surveys, including the American Community Survey (ACS).  The ACS is sent to approximately 3 million households.  The most recent 3 year estimates based on surveys conducted from 2005 – 2008 have just been released for public use.

“The ACS collects information such as age, race, income, commute time to work, home value, veteran status, and other important data…. These 3-year estimates are available annually for geographic areas with a population of 20,000 or more, including the nation, all states and the District of Columbia, all congressional districts, approximately 1,800 counties, and 900 metropolitan and micropolitan statistical areas, among others.”

The Washington Post has a very useful site up for anyone interested in reading/watching President Obama’s key speeches.  It provides a free database of speeches – the transcribed text as well as video clips of the speech being delivered whenever possible.  You can search for speeches by keyword, click on an issue-based tag or browse all issues from most recent to oldest.   Note, tags are a bit arbitrary – the President’s speech reacting to the attempted terrorist attack on December 25th, 2009 was not tagged under “national security and intelligence;”  “homeland security;” or even under “crime and judiciary.”  As of today, it’s tagged under “issue: other”?!!!  Apart from this anomaly, the speeches are easy to find and read.  You can sign up for an RSS feed of President Obama’s speeches, and you can use the Post’s Potus database to “track how Obama is spending his time, what issues are getting the most attention and who is influencing the debate.”

While not a new resource, I only just came across this one today and it’s a terrific source of public opinion in Europe.

“Since 1973, the European Commission has been monitoring the evolution of public opinion in the Member States, thus helping the preparation of texts, decision-making and the evaluation of its work.

Our surveys and studies address major topics concerning European citizenship: enlargement, social situation, health, culture, information technology, environment, the Euro, defence, etc.”

The site provides free access to the full analytical  reports as well as summaries and factsheets arising from the polls that the Commission conducts.   Topics currently include public attitudes towards: the Euro, corruption, climate change, social security, tourism, economic crisis, higher education, employment and EU enlargement.  Most documents are available in several languages – almost always including English – and coverage extends back to 2000.

Google.com has had some US public data embedded in its search results for a while now, but as of November 11 the World Bank’s public data has been added to Google search results.  According to the Official Google blog, “17 World Development Indicators  are now conveniently available to you in Google search….

Complete list of World Bank indicators currently available:

CO2 emissions per capita, Electricity consumption per capita, Energy use per capita, Exports as percentage of GDP, Fertility rate, GDP deflator change, GDP growth rate, GNI per capita in PPP dollars, Gross Domestic Product, Gross National Income in PPP dollars, Imports as percentage of GDP, Internet users as percentage of population, Life expectancy, Military expenditure as percentage of GDP, Mortality rate, under 5, Population, and Population growth rate.”

The US Census Bureau has just released new data:

“on a wide range of socioeconomic, housing and demographic characteristics for communities across the nation, part of an ongoing statistical portrait of America.

Among dozens of topics covered in the survey are educational attainment, commute times, housing characteristics, occupation, language ability and various other social, economic and housing topics.”

The data are available from the American FactFinder website at http://factfinder.census.gov/servlet/DatasetMainPageServlet?_program=ACS&_submenuId=&_lang=en&_ts=

The Asia Foundation has released its  fifth
survey of the Afghan people -
Afghanistan in 2009: a survey of the Afghan people.
From the Asia Foundation website: "Aiming to provide
the Afghan citizenry,policy makers and influential actors in
government, civil society, and
the international community with useful, actionable information,
the 2009 Survey of the Afghan People is a comprehensive assessment
of national perception in key policy areas. These areas include:
security, economy, governance, democratic values, and women and society.
The 2009 fieldwork was conducted during June 17-July 6,
prior to the August 20 elections, and builds upon previous surveys
conducted in 2004, 2006, 2007, and 2008.
Its value can be found in its rigorous methodology and
reliable consistency in measuring public perceptions on a range of
crucial issues each year."

The World Bank has just launched a new website that features a “publicly accessible tool for data visualization,”  called the Data Visualizer.

“The time series used in Data Visualizer is a subset of 2009 World Development Indicators database. It contains 49 indicators for 209 countries and 18 aggregates from 1960-2007. Data includes social, economic, financial, information & technology, and environmental indicators.”

Basically, countries or economic regions are represented as brightly coloured bubbles on a chart and you can choose from a list of variables for both the x and the y axis.  The bubbles move around as you drag the time slider across the bottom of the chart – representing change over time.   If you play around with the Visualizer you can probably figure out the basics of using it and interpreting the data, but apparently there are more advanced features that you might miss.  Fortunately the World Bank has also put together a freely downloadable  instructional video for users that will allow you to maximize this great free tool.

The World Bank has just launched a new website that features a “publicly accessible tool for data visualization,”  called the Data Visualizer.

“The time series used in Data Visualizer is a subset of 2009 World Development Indicators database. It contains 49 indicators for 209 countries and 18 aggregates from 1960-2007. Data includes social, economic, financial, information & technology, and environmental indicators.”

Basically, countries or economic regions are represented as brightly coloured bubbles on a chart and you can choose from a list of variables for both the x and the y axis.  The bubbles move around as you drag the time slider across the bottom of the chart – representing change over time.   If you play around with the Visualizer you can probably figure out the basics of using it and interpreting the data, but apparently there are more advanced features that you might miss.  Fortunately the World Bank has also put together a freely downloadable  instructional video for users that will allow you to maximize this great free tool.

The Yearbook presents a statistical portrait of life in the regions of the European Union’s member states, candidate countries and the EFTA countries. A broad set of regional data is presented on the following themes: population, European cities, labour market, gross domestic product, household accounts, structural business statistics, information society, science, technology and innovation, education, tourism and agriculture. Available in 2 parts.

Part 1

Part 2

From National Academies Press website: “Hidden Costs of Energy defines and evaluates key external costs and benefits that are associated with the production, distribution, and use of energy, but not reflected in market prices. In aggregate, the damage estimates presented here are substantial, and reflect damages from air pollution associated with electricity generation, motor vehicle transportation, and heat generation. The book also considers other effects not quantified in dollar amounts, such as damages from climate change, effects of some air pollutants such as mercury, and risks to national security.

While not a comprehensive guide to policy, this analysis indicates that major initiatives to further reduce other emissions, improve energy efficiency, or shift to a cleaner electricity-generating mix could substantially reduce the damages of external effects. A first step in minimizing the adverse consequences of new energy technologies is to better understand these external effects and damages. Hidden Costs of Energy will therefore be a vital informational tool for government policy makers, scientists, and economists in even the earliest stages of research and development on energy technologies.”

For full report (available on the National Academies website)  scroll down towards the bottom of the page.

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