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QUEST - Statistics and Data

In QUEST, you will need to use a lot of statistics to establish the scope (how many people are affected by the issue?) and severity (what effects does it have on them and their lives?) of your social issue. This is the first step to changing any social problem. Stats tend to be gathered mostly by government and intergovernmental agencies, universities, and reliable nonprofit organizations. See below for some of the places to get started.

PowerPoint: How to get started on gathering scope and severity data

MULTIPLE SOCIAL ISSUES:

USA Facts

 

American Fact Finder

Draws from a variety of U.S. government statistics sources

 

U.S. Census Bureau

 

Pew Research Center

A large nonprofit, nonpartisan organization that conducts surveys on a wide variety of U.S. issues. Widely regarded as a neutral source with good methodology.

 

Gallup

A large U.S. polling company. Have you ever heard, "according to a Gallup poll..."? That was these guys.

 

Public Policy Institute of California

A nonpartisan "think tank" and research organization co-founded in 1994 by a UC Berkeley chancellor, the former dean of Stanford Business School, and the co-founder of the Hewlett-Packard company. Conducts polls and organizes conferences on a variety of social issues.

 

HEALTH:

CDC--National Center for Health Statistics

 

CDC--Fast Stats

 

Medline Plus Health Stats (a service of the National Library of Medicine)

 

National Center for Biotechnology Information

 

National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH)

 

American Psychological Association data links page

Some of these require user registration, but many are open-access 

 

Pub Med (medical research studies, many available in full text)

 

Stats on immunizations/vaccinations

 

Food and Nutrition Data, Dept. of Agriculture

 

National Cancer Institute Stats

 

Cancer Statistics, also from NCI

 

ECONOMICS, EMPLOYMENT, POVERTY, HUNGER, HOMELESSNESS: 

Hunger: California Association of Food Banks data page

 

California Dept. of Social Services Data page

Provides data from the State of California on hunger, services for people with disabilities, services for children, etc.

 

Poverty: Census Bureau data

 

Economy at a Glance (Bureau of Labor Statistics)

 

Homelessness: the American Housing Survey

Co-sponsored by HUD (U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development) and the U.S. Census Bureau

 

Homelessness: HUD data

 

Homelessness: Harvard University Joint Center for Housing Studies

 

Employment: Bureau of Labor Statistics  

 

Occupational Outlook Handbook: Includes stats on jobs gathered by the BLS (see above)

 

U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission Stats

 

STEM:

National Science Foundation

Click on the blue button "Explore the Data"

 

National Center for Science and Engineering Statistics

 

Stats on Tech jobs

 

Pew Research--Internet and Technology

 

ENVIRONMENTAL and ENVIRONMENTAL JUSTICE ISSUES:

*NOTE: QUEST is based on human social issues, so if you choose an environmental topic, make sure to keep your focus on the human impact (ex: health, economic, etc.) of that environmental problem.

Cal Enviro Screen

 

EDUCATION: 

National Center for Education Statistics

 

Education Fast Facts

 

Teachers' use of educational technology

 

U.S. Dept. of Ed Statistics links

 

Arts education in schools

 

Arts education in schools

 

Students with disabilities

 

Students with disabilities


How many students with disabilities receive services?

 

CRIME, INCARCERATION, JUSTICE SYSTEM, LAW ENFORCEMENT: 

Bureau of Justice Statistics

Criminal justice system topics

 

Crime Statistics from the FBI

 

Hate Crime Statistics from the FBI

 

Mapping Police Violence

 

Stanford Open Policing Project

 

DISCRIMINATION:

*TIP: For this topic, it is helpful to think of ways in which discrimination appears that can be measured, and look those up separately. For example: hate crimes, employment discrimination, housing discrimination, etc.

 

LGBT Issues--Williams Institute, UCLA School of Law

This think tank within UCLA law school conducts research on LGBT issues and does an LGBT analysis of the U.S. Census to answer questions like how many Americans are gay/lesbian/bisexual/transgender/etc.

 

Hate Crime Statistics from the FBI

 

OTHER TOPICS:

Bureau of Transportation Statistics


National Highway Traffic Safety Administration

 

Statistics about Sports (from the President's Council on Fitness, Sports, and Nutrition)

 

Statistics about arts (National Endowment for the Arts--NEA)

 

U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission--injuries and deaths associated with various activities

 

Immigration--Pew Research

 

Immigration--U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services

 

Immigration--Dept. of Homeland Security

 

Pro Tips: 

1. Not finding what you need? Try Google's Site Operator:

A great deal of the statistical information collected on social issues in the U.S. is collected by government agencies or by government-funded researchers. Try using Google's site operator to focus in on government sources and other sources that collect a lot of data, like universities and nonprofits. How? Put your search terms (alzheimer's statistics, early childhood education data, sports injury statistics, etc) into the Google search box, followed by a space, then the word site, followed by a colon, and then the domain suffix (.gov, .edu, .org) that you want to search. There should be NO SPACES AFTER THE WORD "SITE." This is how it looks:

 

homeless youth statistics site:.gov

or:

racial discrimination statistics site:.org

 

2. Don't be fooled or impressed just because you see numbers! Think critically about statistics:

“Graphs are not always what they seem. There may be more in them than meets the eye, and there may be a good deal less." --Darrell Huff, How to Lie with Statistics.

Look for things like:


Base rate for increases/decreases/comparisons: "35% more..."--more than what?

Definition of terms: When they say ‘seniors' what age are they counting? Did they ask survey respondents to choose their own racial/ethnic group, or did researchers decide?

Sample size: How many people were surveyed/studied?

Sampling method: Did they choose people at random or did they pick people out of a particular group (ex: students at an Ivy League university; Republican voters; Fox News versus NPR audience members)? Did people apply to be part of the study?

3. Look for reasons for a difference between two sources. If one of your sources says 45% of adolescents experience depression, and another source says 30%, why the difference? Is one source newer? Does one source have a difference in how they define "adolescent" that could cause the rates to change? (ie; 13-18 years old versus 13-25...the person defining "adolescent" the second way would have a bigger number, right?)

4. How old is too old?

It takes a while to collect statistics on a large number of people, so if the data you have is from 2016 and it's 2017, you might not be able to get numbers that are newer. But if you find a great report with some really awesome stats, but it seems a little old to you, it is possible that the group or agency has done this report again more recently. Try searching for the same report online and adding a more recent year, ex: American Housing Survey 2017