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International Relations *

A guide to databases and scholarly online sources that support conducting research in international relations and comparative politics.

Where to Start

Listed below are comprehensive statistics sources that are good starting points for locating essential data in world affairs.

  • World Economics and Politics Dataverse -- created and supported by the USC SPEC Lab, this site provides researchers the ability to download custom datasets with information about the political and economic characteristics of countries. The country-year version of the Dataverse includes over 1000 variables, covering more than 180 countries from 1816 to 2018. In 2019, we have added a dyad-year version of the resource which provides information about the relationship between countries [e.g., geographic distance, trade flows, treaties, and wars].
  • Cross-National Times-Series Data Archive -- originally published by Arthur S. Banks at the State University of New York at Binghamton in 1968, this is a longitudinal set of 194 variables with data for over 200 county units for the period 1815-2008 (excluding the two modern wartime periods, 1914-1918 and 1940-1945) organized in the form of an Excel spreadsheet. Data cover economic, political, population, and demographic variables with an emphasis on political regime and systems data. Includes a weighted conflict index and domestic conflict indicators.
  • Data Planet -- an interactive database that allows users to create tables, maps, and figures from a variety data sources covering banking, criminal justice, education,energy, food and agriculture, government, health, housing and construction,industry and commerce, labor and employment, natural resources and environment, income, cost of living, stocks, transportation, and more. There are also very useful guides to individual country data.
  • EuroStat -- the statistical office of the European Union and provides statistics at European level that enable comparisons between countries and regions.
  • Gapminder -- a non-profit venture promoting sustainable global development and achievement of the United Nations Millennium Development Goals. The site includes moving graphics that display development trends by the countries, time periods, and indicators you choose.
  • Google Dataset Search -- facilitates searching approximately 25 million datasets provided by government, public, and private groups and compiled by Google.
  • ICPSR -- the Inter-University Consortium for Political and Social Research (ICPSR) is an organization based at the University of Michigan that preserves and makes available social science data. There are data collections in a range of subject areas including population, economics, education, health, social and political behavior, crime, aging, and substance abuse. ICPSR holdings include time series and other types of aggregate data, raw data derived from surveys, censuses, and administrative records. These data were originally collected by scholars for specific research or administrative purposes, but are made accessible for the purpose of secondary analysis. To download data, USC users will need to create a free account from a personal laptop or an on-campus computer. Once you've created an account, you will be able to log in from anywhere on or off campus.
  • Inter-American Development Bank Numbers for Development -- a database that provides a snapshot of key development and socio-economic indicators for the Latin American and the Caribbean Region. And in relation a country’s macroeconomic profile, global integration, and social outlook. The system allows you to search by either country or topic compare the indicator value for each country with the regional average.
  • International Human Development Indicators -- human development data utilized in the preparation of the Human Development Index (HDI) and other composite indices featured in the Human Development Report are provided by a variety of public international sources.
  • International Data Base (IDB) -- maintained by the U.S. Bureau of the Census, this database provides demographic data for selected indicators, countries and user-selected regions, and years, population statistics, and summary data, population pyramids and access to more data for a single country.
  • International Historical Statistics Series -- provides access to 490 tables, covering data on 211 countries and territories collected between 1750-2010. Includes data on the Americas, Europe, Africa, Asia, and Oceania as well as on countries whose borders have changed and are now difficult to source (e.g. Czechoslovakia and Zaire). Within each region are chapters on population and vital statistics, labor force, agriculture, industry, external trade, transport and communications, finance, prices, education, and national accounts.
  • International Labour Organization ILOSTAT -- a comprehensive source of international labor statistics for over 100 indicators and 230 countries, areas, and territories in downloadable formats, including data tables for key indicators and statistical briefs.
  • International Monetary Fund [IMF] eLibrary -- includes access to the following statistical databases:
  • MacroDataGuide -- this is a compilation of data sources that include general databases containing social and economic data, large, general datasets with a number of political variables, indicators and indices produced by non-governmental and inter-governmental organizations, and datasets compiled by independent researchers. The information provided in this site is collected from the various institutions’ and research projects’ websites. Excellent place to begin looking for international social science data.
  • The Monthly Bulletin of Statistics -- presents current economic and social statistics gathered by the United Nations for more than 200 countries and territories of the world, comprising over 100 indicators, of monthly, quarterly and annual data on a variety of subjects illustrating important economic trends and developments.
  • Nation Master --  designed by a web publishing company in Australia, this site gathers statistics from such sources as the CIA World Factbook, United Nations, and OECD and presents them in an easy-to-use and interesting graphical formats. Links to ads are present but are generally unobtrusive. This is a good place to get basic data on countries.
  • National Statistical Offices -- a directory of country-specific statistical agencies maintained and updated by the United Nations Statistics Division. Also included is a list of countries and organizations which includes a brief history of the country's statistical system, legal basis, the statistical program and much more.
  • OECD iLibrary -- this is the full-text publications portal of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) and includes comparable statistics and economic and social data. The OECD monitors trends, analyzes and forecasts economic developments and researches social changes or evolving patterns in trade, environment, agriculture, technology, taxation and more.
  • Statista – a portal that integrates data on over 80.000 topics from over 18.000 sources from more than 22,500 sources in over 150 countries onto a single search platform, providing direct access to quantitative data on many topics including media, business, politics, society, technology and education. Sources include market reports, trade publications, scientific journals, and government databases.
  • UNdata -- database facilitates searching and downloading of official statistics produced by countries and compiled by United Nations data system, including estimates and projection, and a variety of statistical resources from the UN system. The domains covered are agriculture, crime, education, energy, industry, labor, national accounts, population and tourism.
  • World Development Indicators -- contains statistical data for over 550 development indicators and time series data from 1960 to the present for over 200 countries and 18 country groups. A helpful tutorial on using WDI can be found here.
  • Worldwide Governance Indicators -- reports aggregate and individual governance indicators for 212 countries and territories over the period 1996–2006, for six dimensions of governance: Voice and Accountability, Political Stability and Absence of Violence, Government Effectiveness, Regulatory Quality, Rule of Law, and Control of Corruption. The Indicators dataset and accompanying tools are excellent resources for broadly comparing stability and legitimacy in national governments worldwide.
  • Zanran Numerical Data Search -- a comprehensive search engine devoted to finding semi-structured numerical data that has been presented as graphs and tables and charts in, for example, a PDF report, or a table in an Excel spreadsheet, or a bar chart shown as an image in an HTML page. Excellent place to search for statistics on very specific topics.

Descriptions of resources are adapted or quoted from vendor websites.

Some Specialized Data Sources

Listed below are specialized sources of data related to issues in international affairs.

  • African Centre for Statistics – an agency within the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa, the Center is responsible for improving the production, dissemination, and use of quality data and comparable statistics in Africa to support evidence-based policymaking, planning, implementation, monitoring, and reporting under the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and Agenda 2063 The Africa We want. Content is divided into four main sections: Economic, Infrastructure and Agriculture Statistics; Demographic and Social Statistics; Statistical Development, Data Innovation, and Outreach; and Geospatial Information Management Systems.
  • African Development Bank Group Statistical Data Portal -- provides access to statistical data and indicators relating to African countries. The Portal includes multiple customized tools to gather indicators, analyze them, and export them into multiple formats. It can be used to visualize socio-economic indicators over a period of time, gain access to presentation-ready graphics, and perform comprehensive analysis on a country and regional level. Data is available for download in Excel under categories, such as, energy, infrastructure, environment, prices, public finance, monetary data, debt, balance of payments, national accounts, governance, and the financial sector. Site includes a search engine for finding statistics by keyword or by country. Excellent source of data on Africa.
  • AidData -- a research and innovation lab making information on development finance more accessible and actionable through a searchable data portal which now includes over one million past and present development finance activities from the 1940s to present made available by more than ninety domestic and international funding agencies. AidData also produces geospatial datasets that provide sub-national information about development finance projects.
  • ArcticStat -- a permanent, public and independent statistical database dealing with the countries, regions, and populations of the Circumpolar Arctic. ArcticStat is updated periodically to contain, wherever possible, the most recent data available.
  • CEPALSTAT -- portal to comprehensive statistical information of Latin America and the Caribbean countries collected and published by the Economic Commission for Latin America. The platform provides access to statistics and periodic indicators, through statistical interactive tables, maps and charts, regional and national profiles based on a set of key indicators. The user can export data and cross-tabulate indicators to produce tables on real time combining data from different series and/or countries and/or time periods, allowing the inclusion of external geographic layers.
  • China Statistical Yearbooks Database/China Data Insights -- provides access to statistical data published by the mainland Chinese government at all levels from 1949 to present. The Chinese interface allows for browsing statistical yearbooks by subject, type, and geographic areas.
  • CIRI Human Rights Dataset -- provides access to standards-based quantitative information on government respect for fifteen internationally recognized human rights provisions for 202 countries, annually from 1981-2011. It is designed to help students and researchers test theories about the causes and consequences of human rights violations, as well as to help policy makers and analysts estimate the human rights effects of a wide variety of institutional changes and public policies, including democratization, economic aid, military aid, structural adjustment, and humanitarian intervention.
  • Comparative Agendas Project (CAP) -- assembles and codes information on the policy processes of governments from around the world. It classifies policy activities into a single, universal and consistent coding scheme. CAP monitors policy processes by tracking the actions that governments take in response to the challenges they face. These activities can take many different forms, including debating a problem, delivering speeches, (e.g. the Queen’s speech in the United Kingdom), holding hearings, introducing or enacting laws (e.g. Bills and Public Laws in the United States) or issuing judicial rulings (e.g. rulings from the European Court of Justice). CAP’s system uses 20 major topics and 200+ subtopics to code those activities. CAP actively monitors thirty different data series, all coded by this same coding system.
  • Correlates of War Project -- founded in 1963 by J. David Singer, University of Michigan, the goal of the project is to systematically accumulate quantitative knowledge about war. The fundamental goal of data gathering and analysis not just to measure temporal and spatial variation in war but to identify factors that would systematically explain this variation.
  • Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific Data Explorer – a portal to data and analysis at regional, sub-regional, and country levels on Sustainable Development Goals statistics for Asia and the Pacific. The Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific is an intergovernmental organization in the Asia-Pacific region that promotes cooperation among its fifty-three member States and nine associate members in pursuit of solutions to sustainable development challenges.
  • EuroStat -- provides comprehensive statistics from and about the European Union member states covering the economy, population, industry, trade, services, agriculture, environment, energy, science and technology for the purpose of enabling comparisons between countries and regions.
  • Gender Data Portal -- comprehensive source for the latest sex-disaggregated data and gender statistics covering demography, education, health, economic opportunities, public life and decision-making, and agency from the World Bank. The database is updated four times a year (April, July, September, and December). The Gender Data Portal enables you to: Access time-series gender data by searching for indicators, creating a query or downloading all gender indicators; explore country and topic dashboards with indicators on gender equality; browse household surveys and censuses with topics of interest in the survey catalog; locate COVID-19 gender data resources; and, get tools for data visualization and analysis. This is a very good source for current gender-related statistics.
  • GeoHive -- a site with geopolitical data, statistics on the human population, Earth, and more. The main kind of data you can find here is population statistics of regions, countries, provinces and cities.
  • Humanitarian Data Exchange – an open access platform for sharing and making humanitarian data easy to find and use for analysis. Launched in July 2014, HDX is managed by United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, Centre for Humanitarian Data and includes data about the context in which a humanitarian crisis is occurring (e.g., baseline/development data, damage assessments, geospatial data); data about the people affected by the crisis and their needs; and, data about the response by organizations and people seeking to help those who need assistance.
  • Integrated Network for Societal Conflict Research -- coordinates and integrates a variety of information resources produced and used by the Center for Systemic Peace. The INSCR data resources cover all independent countries with a total population of 500,000 persons in the most recent year (167 countries in 2013). Most of the CSP data resources are updated and revised on an annual cycle and re-examined whenever new sources of information become available.
  • IPUMS International -- a database that currently describes more than 1 billion persons recorded in 473 censuses and surveys taken from 1960 to the present, 46 earlier historical censuses, and 80 household surveys. The data are coded and documented consistently across countries and over time to facilitate comparative research. IPUMS-International makes these data available to qualified researchers free of charge through a web dissemination system. IPUMS-International is composed of microdata, which means that it provides information about individual persons and households. This makes it possible for researchers to create tabulations tailored to their particular questions. Since IPUMS-International includes most of the information originally recorded by census enumerators, users can construct a great variety of tabulations interrelating any desired set of variables.
  • Luxembourg Income Study -- a cross-national Data Archive and a  Research Institute that contains two primary databases. The  LIS Database includes income microdata from a large number of countries at multiple points in time. The newer  LWS Database includes wealth microdata from a smaller selection of countries. Both databases include labor market and demographic data as well. Registered users may access the microdata for social scientific research using a remote-access system. All visitors to the website may download the  LIS Key Figures, which provide country-level poverty and inequality indicators.
  • Minorities at Risk (MAR) Project -- a research project that monitors and analyzes the status and conflicts of politically-active communal groups in all countries with a current population of at least 500,000. The project currently maintains data on 283 politically active ethnic groups. The centerpiece of the project is a dataset that tracks groups on political, economic, and cultural dimensions.
  • National Population Census of China --  full-text database and census data analysis system based on the census information of Chinese government statistics department at national, provincial, municipal, and country levels from 1982 to 2010.
  • Nordic Statistics Database -- a collection of comparative Nordic statistics with about two hundred matrices covering the five Nordic countries (Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway and Sweden). Contents are comprehensive and include international affairs data on import, export, trading partners and commodity types, integration and migration includes data on educational attainment levels, employment rates and population structure for foreign-born individuals and their descendants, and on votes, turnout and gender distribution of elected candidates in the European and national parliaments.
  • Organisation of Islamic Cooperation, OIC Statistics (OICStat) Database -- database provides data on 256 socio-economic variables under 17  categories for the 57 OIC member countries dating back to 1970. The content of this database is regularly updated.
  • Peace Research Institute Oslo -- provides datasets on governance, armed conflict, geographical and resources, mapping arms data, and economic and socio-demographic data derived from various projects and program sponsored by the institute. The site also includes a searchable  bibliography of more than 1250 references to books, book chapters, articles and reports dealing with various conflict-related issues.
  • Penn World Table -- a database used to compare living standards across countries and explaining differences in cross-country growth, with information on relative levels of income, output, inputs and productivity, with country and period coverage depending on the release.
  • Political Instability Task Force Worldwide Atrocities Dataset -- a dataset that describes, in quantitative terms, the deliberate killing of non-combatant civilians in the context of a wider political conflict. This data collection project, which is still ongoing, is intended to advance efforts to understand and anticipate atrocities, i.e., the deliberate use of lethal violence against non-combatant civilians by actors engaged in a wider political or military conflict. The effective date of data in this dataset is January 1, 1995 to the present date. Data are updated monthly.
  • Political Terror Scale -- developed by Mark Gibney, Reed Wood, and a group of human rights volunteers, this resource measures levels of political violence and terror that a country experiences in a particular year based on a 5-level “terror scale” originally developed by Freedom House. The data used in compiling this index comes from two different sources: the yearly country reports of Amnesty International and the U.S. State Department Country Reports on Human Rights Practices.
  • Quality of Government Data Sets -- intended to promote cross-national comparative research on quality of government output and its correlates, this site provides access five freely available datasets, three of which are available in both Time Series and Cross Section: a Standard Dataset consisting of approximately 2500 variables from more than 100 data sources (from 1946 to present time). Other datasets contain the most qualitative variables from the Standard Dataset; a set that covers countries that are members of the OECD; an EU Regional Dataset that concerns corruption on regional level within the EU based on a survey of 34,000 respondents; and, the Expert Survey dataset based on our survey of experts on public administration around the world.
  • re3data: Registry of Research Data Repositories – a global registry of research data repositories that covers research data repositories from different academic disciplines. It includes repositories that enable permanent storage of and access to data sets to researchers, funding bodies, publishers, and scholarly institutions. Good resource for identifying data repositories for your own data or finding raw datasets.
  • Social Conflict Analysis Database (SCAD) – this resource includes protests, riots, strikes, inter-communal conflict, government violence against civilians, and other forms of social conflict not systematically tracked in other conflict datasets. SCAD currently includes information about social conflicts from 1990-2016, covering all of Africa as well as Mexico, Central America, and the Caribbean.
  • Statistics of the Human Development Report -- the UN Human Development publishes global, regional and national human development reports along with related statistics. This webpage provides access to these reports from the most recent back to the mid 1990's.
  • Terrorism and Preparedness Data Resource Center -- now part of the ICPSR database, TPDRC archives and distributes data collected by government agencies, non-governmental organizations (NGOs), and researchers about the nature of intra-domestic and international terrorism incidents, organizations, perpetrators, and victims; governmental and nongovernmental responses to terror, including primary, secondary, and tertiary interventions; and citizen's attitudes towards terrorism, terror incidents, and the response to terror.
  • Transparency International -- a comparative listing of corruption worldwide produced by a non-governmental organization that monitors and publicizes corporate and political corruption in more than 100 countries. The site also provides educational information on corruption, news, information on specific geographic regions, surveys, and publications.
  • United Nations Economic Commission for Europe Statistical Database -- provides multi-dimensional tables by country, by various socio-economic classifications related to the context, and by time period. Data is currently presented under three subject areas, gender statistics, transport statistics, and forestry statistics, as well as general macroeconomic statistics.
  • United Nations General Assembly Voting Data -- a dataset gathered and made available by Harvard professor Erik Voeten that provides a unique identifier for each resolution, the date of the vote, codes for the types of votes, the UN resolution number, the vote-tally, short and long descriptions of the content of the votes, the actual votes by countries, and, where available,  a hyperlink to the text of the resolution.
  • Uppsala Conflict Data Program (UCDP) -- a project to collect information on a large number of aspects of armed violence since 1946. Since 2004, the UCDP operates and continuously updates an online database (UCDP Conflict Encyclopedia) on armed conflicts and organized violence, in which several aspects of armed conflict such as conflict dynamics and conflict resolution are available.
  • Varieties of Democracy (V-Dem) – provides a multidimensional and disaggregated dataset that reflects the complexity of the concept of democracy as a system of rule that goes beyond the simple presence of elections. The V-Dem project distinguishes between five high-level principles of democracy: electoral, liberal, participatory, deliberative, and egalitarian, and collects data to measure these principles.
  • WomanStats Project Database -- a compilation of statistics gathered from tracking over 350 variables in 175 countries, including issues such as rape, sex trafficking, maternal and child mortality, family law, women in government and the military, and many others. This information comes from sources such as government and non-governmental organization reports, news articles, and personal interviews with experts. This is the largest cross-national compilation of data, statistics, and maps on the status of women worldwide.

Descriptions of resources are adapted or quoted from vendor websites.

Citing Data

You must properly cite data and statistics for the same reasons that you cite any other types of publications in your research papers: to defend yourself against allegations of plagiarism, to acknowledge the original author or creator of the datasets or statistics, and to help your readers locate the original source of information. Listed below are websites that can help you create a citation to information presented numerically.

Need Help Using Statistics?

For more detailed information about locating statistical sources and help using data, contact:
Dr. Joseph Medicine Crow Center
International and Public Affairs LibraryResearch Guides:  Government Information, Policy & Planning, Statistics & Data