International & Public Affairs Research Guide: Find Data & Statistics

This research guide identifies some of the major databases and library services that support research at the School of International Affairs at Columbia University.

Research Data Services (RDS)

Get help finding data or performing statistical analyses! Schedule a data consultation with your librarian or drop by Research Data Services in Lehman Library RDS Walk-in Hours

Short cuts RDS guides:

Data Repositories


  • Bureau of Labor Statistics: The principal Federal agency responsible for measuring labor market activity, working conditions, and price changes in the economy.
  • FedStats: Gateway to statistics produced by more than 100 U.S. government agencies.
  • Sage Stats: Database of 6,000+ current and historical data series from federal and state government and non-government sources.  
  • Statista: Statistics and studies gathered by market researchers, trade organizations, scientific publications, and government sources on over 600 industries.
  • Statistical Insight: Statistical information from the U.S. government, international intergovernmental organizations (IGOs), state governments, and private sources. 
  • UN Statistics
  • US Census Comparative Statistics
  • Vital statistics on American Politics: Provides basic statistical information on U.S. government and politics: elections, Congress, the presidency, the judiciary, campaign finances, and more
  • World Statistics 

Guiding Questions to Help Find Data

Before you begin to search for your data, work through these questions and note your answers. They will help you in your search. Consider the Data & Statistics for Journalists Research Guide for more information. 
  • Do you already know this data exists?
    • For instance, if you found it referenced in a newspaper or other article, note the citation, or any related information like who collected the data and when. You may be able to use this to find the original data source--even if it takes a little detective work with your friendly librarian!
  • Do you need raw data or statistics?
  • What geography level do you need? (country, state, city, neighborhood, etc.)
  • Are there time contraints (a range of years, monthly, quarterly, annually)? 
  • What is the unit of analysis?
    • Are you comparing individuals or groups?
    • Do you need microdata or macrodata?
  • What is the topic or subject?
    • You can search by topic in the Data by Topic tab.
    • Think about who might collect this data, and for what purpose (collectors of data include: government agencies, nonprofits, NGOs, businesses, and academic researchers).
  • Do you need demographic data (characteristics that define a population, such as: gender, age, ethnicity, language, housing, employment)?
    • If so, then you may find that most of the data you need is available from the US Census Bureau and/or the NYC Department of Planning (DCP).
  • Do you know what kind of analysis you want to perform on your data?
  • Are you interested in creating maps (using spatial data)?
  • What software will you use? Where can you get training and help? Can you download this software and/or use it on campus?


Political Data

  • iPoll Databank @ the Roper Center for Public Opinion Research: A comprehensive source for U.S. nationwide public opinion that indexes and reports at question-level, 1935 to present.
  • Luxemburg Cross-national Data CenterAccess to U.S. national polls by searching question wording. 
  • Polling the Nations: Contains polls taken on a variety of subjects all over the world. Each record consists of one poll question and the participants' responses.
  • Pew Research Center for the People and the Press: The Pew Research Center for the People & the Press is an independent, non-partisan public opinion research organization. National, international and trans-national surveys covering attitudes toward politics, the press and public policy issues
  • State Stats: Data from more than 80 different U.S. government and non-government sources. Collection of more than 2,000 current and historical data series on popular topics of research interest.
  • UNdata: More than 450 statistical time series for countries from around the world covering a wide range of economic and socio-demographic topics.

Economic Data

  • China Data Center: Focuses on economic statistics of China, arranged by regions and categories. Includes monthly and yearly reports on China's macroeconomic development, statistical databases about China's population and economy at the provincial, county, and city level, and financial indicators of more than 568 industrial branches. Also includes statistical yearbooks, census data, industrial and marketing surveys, and an atlas of China.
  • IMF eLibrary: Access to data and statistical tools, as well as books and reports. Topics covered include macroeconomics, development, trade and aid, technical assistance, and poverty reduction.
  • ISI Emerging Markets: Provides financial and economic information on emerging market countries.
  • OECD iLibrary: Includes all OECD books, reports, periodicals and statistical databases. Coverage: 1988 to the present, updated weekly.
  • Thompson One Banker: Provides access to financial data on public companies, as well as merger and acquisition information and market data, 1999 to the present.
  • TranStats: A searchable index of over 100 transportation-related data bases across every mode of transportation with many social and demographic data sets.
  • World Development Indicators (World Bank): WDI is a comprehensive database on development data covering 575 indicators, 225 countries, and 18 regional and income groups. Coverage varies.
  • World Bank Indicators: Collection of development indicators, compiled from officially recognized international source.