Research & Data

This page provides links to help students and faculty conduct economic research and find economic research papers and data.  Click on a topic immediately below to go to the section of this page with information on that topic.

General | Finding economic research | Stata | Data directories U.S. national and state economic data | Census data | U.S. household data sets | Government tax and spending data | International and developing countries | Health & environment | Housing prices | Crime and the law | Business and finance | Economic history | Education

General guide to economics Internet resources

Finding economics research papers and journal articles

  • Econlit.  The best search engine for finding scholarly economics literature.
  • Williams College Library Economics Subject Guide.  Guide to resources to help you conduct research in economics, assembled by Walter Komorowski, library liason for economics.
  • Williams College Library Electronic Journals – Link to the College’s extensive collection of electronic journals.
  • EconPapers – Extensive archive of economics working papers online.
  • National Bureau of Economic Research — Hosts the leading working paper series in economics.
  • Here are some places to find literature reviews and overviews of the economics research on particular topics (these are often a good place to start when conducting research):
    • Journal of Economic Literature — A good source for survey and review articles on economic topics.
    • Journal of Economic Perspectives — “…aims to publish articles that will serve several goals: to synthesize and integrate lessons learned from active lines of economic research; to provide economic analysis of public policy issues; to encourage cross-fertilization of ideas among the fields of thinking; to offer readers an accessible source for state-of-the-art economic thinking; to suggest directions for future research; to provide insights and readings for classroom use…”
    • Annual Review of Economics — “Each year, Annual Reviews critically reviews the most significant primary research literature to guide you to the principal contributions of the field and help you keep up to date in your area of research.”
    • Handbooks in Economics series.   There are handbooks of economics in various different fields of economics, produced by publishers such as North-Holland and Edward Elgar.  These provide overviews of economic research in particular fields and are periodically updated with new volumes.  Try doing a keyword search in Francis for “handbook” “economics” and the general area of economics you are interested in (e.g., “development”).



Geographical Information Systems (GIS) software

  • Getting Started with GIS (for ArcGIS 10) free online tutorial. You will need to create a Global Account on the ESRI site but then will be able to take any of their free courses. After completing this course, if there are any paid online courses you would like (only the ESRI courses), Sharron Macklin in OIT can grant you authorization to take the course for free as it is part of the Williams license. Arc GIS software is available on all Williams lab computers.
  • Melissa Dell’s notes on GIS for applied economists.
  • Williams students interested in GIS software (which can be very useful in economics research) should consider taking GEOS 214, Geographical Information Systems, usually offered spring semester (link to Williams course catalog here).

Directories to help you find economic data

U.S. national and state economic data

Census data

  • IPUMS-USA.  The IPUMS web site makes it easy to download user-friendly extracts of U.S. Census Bureau micro-level data (that is, data on families, households, and individuals).  This web site provides access to the Public Use Microdata Series (PUMS), which consists of micro-level data from the decennial U.S. census.  For the most recent few decennial censuses, there is a PUMS data set available through this web site which has a 5% sample of the entire U.S. population. For earlier censuses, there is a 1% sample of the U.S. population.  Access to the data is free, but you will need to submit an online application describing your project, and then will have to wait a few days for approval, before you can start downloading data (this is true of all the IPUMS sites).
  • IPUMS-CPS.  IPUMS-CPS makes available data from the Current Population Survey, an annual survey of  tens of thousands of U.S. households conducted by the U.S. Census Bureau.  Data sets are available for every year between 1962 and 2005.  The IPUMS web site makes it easy to download extracts of the data.
  • IPUMS-International.  Provides user-friendly access to census data from many countries around the world.
  • Geolytics.  Geolytics provides data from the full U.S. decennial census broken down by geographic area (as small as a census tract).  The link above describes the Geolytics product but does not provide access to the data. We do have access to the data in the Williams College library. Talk to Walter Komorowski in the library for more information.
  • The American Community Survey.  An annual survey of U.S. households, similar to the decennial census, with a very large sample size (about 1.2 million households per year). Also available in a more user-friendly format through the IPUMS-USA link above.
  • Terra Populus. Terra Populus integrates the world’s population and environmental data, including: population censuses and surveys; land cover information from remote sensing; climate records from weather stations; land use records from statistical agencies.

U.S. household data sets commonly used by economists

Data on taxation, government spending, and / or income inequality

  • Internet TAXSIM.  An online software program that allows you to upload a data set to the NBER server, which then calculates income tax rates for the households in your data, and returns another data set to you with the tax rates.  It can calculate federal income tax rates for years between 1960 and 2013, and state tax rates for years between 1977 and 2008.
  • World Tax Database.  Data on tax rates and tax revenues for different types of taxes for the U.S., U.S. states, and various countries around the world for a large number of years.
  • State & Local Finance Data Query System.  Sponsored by Urban-Brookings Tax Policy Center.  State and local data on government expenditure and tax revenue for 1977-2004.
  • Internal Revenue Service Tax Statistics.
  • Emmanuel Saez’s web site.  Berkeley economics professor, makes numerous interesting data sets related to taxation and income inequality publicly available.
  • The Top Incomes Database.  A data base of long-term historical data on the shares of national incomes going to the top of the income distribution in each of a large number of different countries, derived from income tax return data.  Assembled by Facundo Alvaredo, Tony Atkinson, Thomas Piketty and Emmanuel Saez.
  • Daniel Waldstrom’s data page.  Includes long-run historical cross-country data on top income shares and marginal income tax rates, among other things.
  • Cara McDaniel’s tax data.  Data on average tax rates in various OECD countries for a large number of years.
  • OECD iLibrary.  Extensive statistics on OECD nations.
  • Euromod.  Tax and government benefit simulator for European countries.
  • Collecting Taxes page.  A US AID site with extensive data on taxation in a large number of countries around the world.
  •  Data on tax rates from countries around the world.
  • Peter Lindert’s data page.  Extensive collection of historical data from a large number of countries.
  • World Bank Doing Business Indicators.  Includes data on taxation and regulation for a large number of countries.
  • International Center for Tax and Development “Government Revenue Dataset.” Data on government revenue for a very large set of countries over multiple years.

International data and data on developing countries

Data on health and / or the environment

Housing price data

  • Geolytics.  Geolytics provides data from the full U.S. decennial censuses of 1970, 1980, 1990, and 2000, broken down by geographic area (as small as a census tract).  A nice feature of the Geolytics data is that they have standardized the definitions of census tracts across years, so it is possible to make consistent comparisons of the same places over time (for some of the earlier censuses, this is only available for urban census tracts). Geolytics includes data on house prices, as well as many other variables. The link above describes the Geolytics product but does not provide access to the data. We do have access to the data in the Williams College library (see Francis). Talk to Walter Komorowski in the library for more information.
  • American Housing Survey.  Data on house prices and house characteristics for a large sample of houses. Data is collected for each of 47 selected metropolitan areas approximately once every six years.
  • Zillow.  Provides data on prices of recent home sales as well as estimates of current market values of individual homes across the United States.
  • FHFA housing price indices.  Price index for constant-quality homes, broken down by geographical region in the U.S., available going back to 1976.
  • Robert Shiller’s online data page.  Includes link to the Case-Shiller housing price index.

Data on crime and the law

Business and finance data

Economic history