Recent years have seen a growing requirement from the academic sector for access to high quality international data. As the integration of national societies and economies accelerates, the accompanying issues of globalisation, migration, inequity and growth have attracted increasing interest from the research community. Access to international databanks also allows researchers to make cross country comparisons or interpret their findings in a broader perspective. In social science fields such as crime, employment or health, a research question that may have been a single country study a few years ago now requires examination in an international context. Issues such as climate change, the spread of infectious disease, energy security or other collective global problems can only be addressed at an international level and the academic sector requires an evidence base in order to contribute and comment on these trans-national policy responses.
Through ESDS International, the ESRC provides the UK academic community with access to a stock of world class, authoritative data resources. The service is unique in that it provides online access, free at the point of use, to a comprehensive range of international databanks. These include macro (or aggregate) databanks such as those produced by the World Bank and the United Nations, and micro (or survey) datasets such as the European Social Survey. One of the objectives of this course is to promote increased and more effective use of both aggregate and survey data in international comparative research.
However, there still exists a lack of understanding of how best to establish linkages between international macro and micro data. These linkages are important, not only for reasons of consistency, but also to take account of wider influences on individual level responses and allow researchers to explore how survey data can inform aggregate data research. Hence, the second key objective of this course is to increase awareness of the methodological, statistical and technical issues associated with combining aggregate and survey data.
This first unit covers the basics of international aggregated macro data and survey data. What are these different data types and how are they produced? The unit introduces the major international aggregate and survey datasets available, and describes the range of themes they cover. We will be looking at how to locate the data you need and using, an example drawn from the World Bank World Development Indicators, the unit will guide you through accessing, subseting and charting data using Beyond 20/20.