Subject Research Guides

Comparative Politics


directories of government agencies

These directories contain listings by country of major statistical agencies. Organizations like the OECD and UN collect much of their data directly from country agencies. Going directly to those agencies is a good way to find data collected on a regional rather than country level or in more detail than is provided by international compilations.

International Statistics Agencies
This page from the Census contains links to the offical statistical offices of foreign countries and IGOs.

National Agencies and Compendia
This listing by country provides links to the main statistical office and to each country's main statistical compendium.  It also notes if the compendium is in a language other than English.

International Documents
Another excellent guide to official web sites of foreign governments. This one is from Northwestern University Libraries.

Foreign Government Data Sources
This page from the University of Michigan Documents Center includes links to statistics agencies by country and also links to other comprehensive sources of country data.

International Statistical and Electoral Resources
Maintained by Emory University, this page links to statistical agencies by country.

Governments on the WWW
Quick links to national, regional, and international government web pages. Close competitors include:

International Organizations
An extensive subject guide from UC Berkeley to International government information. See the Foreign Government Information guide for extensive links to government documents of non-U.S. countries.

Yahoo Regional: Countries

Return to top

general statistics and compendia

Starting with statistical indexes and compendia is a good time-saver, especially if you are not sure exactly which agency collects, or which dataset contains, the parameters that you need.

Political Handbook of the World - Carleton Only
This online reference work from CQ includes regime type, party system, electoral system, system of government by country and much more.

LexisNexis Statistical - Carleton Only
A subscription resource, this database aggregates three important statistical indexes:

  • American Statistics Index (ASI)
  • Index to International Statistics (IIS)
  • Statistical Reference Index (SRI).

A great place to start, especially when trying to identify who collects a certain type of data. Many of the statistics from government agencies are included or linked from the database.

Statistical Abstract of the United States
This compendia of statistics produced by the U.S. government contains basic tables summarizing the vast amount of data collected by the government. Comparative international data included as well. Also available in print in the Ready Reference collection at C 3.134: 2004-2005.

Statistical Yearbook (United Nations)

OECD Factbook and OECD in Figures

European Union Encyclopedia and Directory 2005

Europa World Yearbook and Europa World Plus (online)
CC Ready Reference JN1 .E85 2008
Country reports (brief history, political overview, names of leaders and agencies, etc.) along with statistical overviews of each country. Information is very up to date, and documentation leads to the sources of the statistics -- important information for finding more detailed, less aggregated statistics.

Whitaker's Almanack
CC Ready Reference AY754 .W5 2005
Brief statistical information by country along with historical, political, and economic information. Previous years kept in general stacks

Human Development Reports, United Nations Development Programme
Not strictly a compendium, but can function like one. These annual reports from 1990 to present, are downloadable in .pdf. The tables draw from publicly available sources and, beyond their inherent use, are good for locating other sources for data.

Return to top

portals and archives for finding data

EarthTrends Database
From the World Resources Institute which publishes the World Resources series of reports and data tables, this comparative online database includes demographic, economic, infrastructure, politics, and natural resources. It draws from major sources listed on this page.
"a massive central data source and a handy way to graphically compare nations. NationMaster is a vast compilation of data from such sources as the CIA World Factbook, United Nations, World Health Organization, World Bank, World Resources Institute, UNESCO, UNICEF and OECD."

Maplecroft Maps
This interactive mapping application allows you to visualize data from such sources as Transparency International, the OECD, and the World Bank on many topics divided into four broad categories: economic, political, social, and environmental. Besides the value of the maps themselves you can use them and their accompanying documentation to access the data used to create them or to find other sources of data on that topic.

Data on the Net
From the University of California, San Diego's searchable listing of 850 Internet sites of numeric Social Science statistical data, data catalogs, data libraries, social science gateways, addresses and more. Try searching on the term 'comparative'.

University of Rochester: Political Science Data
A nicely annotated list of comparative election results, comparative datasets, election results, polls, and more (maintained by a friend of Kristin's).

Council of Social Science Data Archives (CESSDA)
Search or browse CESSDA's data portal to simultaneously search the collections of 11 data archives across Europe. Most of the datasets are free to the public, but access is determined by each individual archive. Contact Kristin for help determining access. Use their map of data archives to locate other European data archives.]

ICPSR - Carleton Only
Thousands of datasets compiled, contributed, and archived are available to the Carleton community from ICPSR. Search the catalog for datasets. Sign up for an account for permission to download data and its documentation. It is highly recommended that you download only the codebook for a dataset before dowloading all of the data itself.

NYU portal

Paul Hensel (FSU)
"the most useful data sources on processes of international conflict and cooperation, as well as data covering international economic, environmental, political, and social data and data on similar topics for the United States." quoted from web site.

Political Science Data
A list of links to datasets useful for comparative politics research. From the political science department at the University of Michigan.

IQSS Dataverse Network
Access and search across a huge number of social science data archives from one place, the Institute for Quantitative Social Sciences Dataverse Network.

Return to top

major producers and compilers of international data

The following links provide entryways into sources of statistics of interest to those looking for comparative country data. Rather than starting with the home page for the UN, save some time and start with these recommended pages.

World Bank

World Development Indicators (WDI) - Carleton Only
Statistical data for over 550 development indicators and time series data from 1960-2002 for over 200 countries and 18 country groups. Data includes social, economic, financial, natural resources, and environmental indicators.
For data documentation, see reference book: World Development Indicators, Ref HC 59.15 .W656.

World Bank - Data
The data and maps section of their web page.

Data by Country
A listing of country-level data collected by the World Bank.

Research Datasets
Search and browse these datasets compiled for World Bank research.

Governance Datasets
The World Bank Institute's Governance group provides access to a group of datasets, indices and surveys.

See below for more development banks

United Nations

Combines 15 databases and 55 million records from different UN agencies and branches.  Topics include agriculture, employment, education, health, human development, industry, and more. Replaces the now defunct UN Common Database.

Statistical Yearbook
CC Reference HA12.5 .U63 2001
Like the Statistical Abstract of the United States, this book is a great way to find out what kind of data are collected by the UN and where to find them. Latest edition kept in Reference, older editions in general collection.

United Nations Statistics Division - Unrestricted Access Databases
Find listed and described on this page all unrestricted access databases from the UN, including:

  • Demographic Yearbook
  • InfoNation
  • Millennium Indicators Database
  • National Accounts Main Aggregates Database
  • Population statistics
  • Social Indicators

You will see frequent references in the literature to the Comtrade database from the UN Statistics Division. Carleton does not subscribe to the full resource, so if you get an "access restricted" message, you are, in fact, at a dead end. Increasingly more free trade data are to be found here, however, so remains a great resource. (More resources on international trade and trade barriers)

International Statistics
Listing of all statistics programs of the UN as well as other places to find international statistics.

The Least Developed Countries Report
This annual report from the UN includes socio-economic analysis and data on the countries rated "least developed" by the UN.

Social Indicators
A short list of statistics (by country) on population and development, children, social development and women from the UN Statistics Division.

UNCTAD Handbook of Statistics Online
The UN Conference on Trade and Development produces this "comprehensive collection of statistical data relevant to the analysis of international trade, investment and development, for individual countries and for economic and trade groupings."
Note: If you are looking for FDI (Foreign Direct Investment), you will find it here.

International Labor Organization
The ILO is a specialized UN agency that focuses on labor rights. Its LABORSTA database provides yearly and periodical labor statistics.

Human Development Reports - Statistics, UNDP
The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) produces the annual statistical compendium "Human Development Reports." This site allows you to get data from those reports. You can also download the reports back to 1990.

United Nations ESCO (UNESCO) Institute for Statistics Data Center
Access data from "over 1000 types of indicators and raw data on education, literacy, science and technology, culture and communication" collected from more than 200 countries and international organizations.

Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO)
This link goes to a list of all FAO statistical databases. FAOSTAT is the one to start with, which covers time series data for over 210 countries and territories on agriculture, nutrition, fisheries, forestry, food aid, land use and population.

Return to top

Organization for Economic Co-Operation and Development (OECD)

Main Economic Indicators
Carleton does not have access to the online version, but the print is in the library, newest editions in Reference:
CC Ref HA1107 .O68

OECD Statistics Portal
This portal provides free access to seven OECD databases and selections from all others to the public. Browse statistics by topic or by country.

OECD Factbook 2008
This compendium of statistics collected by the OECD is free on the web. A good way to learn what types of data are collected by this organization and where to find them.

OECD In Figures 2006-07
A smaller compendium than the OECD Factbook, this simple book of statistics on OECD countries is small enough to download to your computer and keep on hand for ready reference.

List of Frequently Requested OECD Statistics

OECD.Stat Extract
A selection from OECD's statistical datasets, freely accessible on the web.

Though Carleton does not subscribe to most material on this large site, searching here is the best way to find full citation information for publications from the OECD. Interlibrary Loan is an option for many titles. Talk to a librarian for assistance.

European Union

European Union Encyclopedia and Directory 2005
CC Reference HC241.2 .E8334
This reference book contains basic country statistics tables, and can help one identify which agencies collect which data, and how those data will be organized on eurostat.

Detailed and comparable statistical data at EU level. See also the official web site of the European Union.

Public opinion surveys of citizens of Member States since 1973. (Note: those interested in the European Union see also the surveys collected by Liesbet Hooge below). Access these data in several forms and formats:

Return to top

United States Census

International Data Base - Census Bureau
Data base for 227 countries plus some useful links.

More International Organizations

International Energy Agency (IEA)

International Iron and Steel Institute

Interstate Statistical Committee of the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS)

European Automobile Manufacturers Association (ACEA)

More Development Banks

African Development Bank - Statistics
Statistical publications available from the ADB include:

  • Gender Poverty and Environmental Indicators on African Countries 2005
  • Selected Statistics on African Countries 2005
  • Compendium of Statistics on Bank Group Operations
  • Latest ADB Statistics Pocket Book

Asian Development Bank - Key Indicators 2005
This annual databook from the ADB and features 30 regional tables, 8 Millennium Development Goals tables, and 42 country tables (each containing 18 years of time series). Each issue of the Key Indicators contains a chapter on a specific topic; this year the focus is on poverty and labor markets. See the previous editions of the Key Indicators for other thematic chapters.

Inter-American Development Bank -Annual Report 2004
The site of the IADB also includes detailed information by country.

The Bank for International Settlements (BIS)
"The Bank for International Settlements (BIS) is an international organisation which fosters international monetary and financial cooperation and serves as a bank for central banks." The BIS provides access to publications and statistics on their web site.

European Central Bank (ECB)

**To identify more development banks, their descriptions, budgets, number of members and web sites, use part 2 of the
Encyclopedia of International Organizations (entries 23462-23514)
Ready Reference HS 17 .G333

Return to top

comparative databases/datasets

Governance Indicators: 1996-2004
The World Bank Institute's aggregated governance research indicators for 209 countries for six dimensions of governance:

  • Voice and Accountability
  • Political Stability and Absence of Violence
  • Government Effectiveness
  • Regulatory Quality
  • Rule of Law
  • Control of Corruption

See also the World Bank's spreadsheet inventory of 140 governance datasets

Pippa Norris (Harvard)
Exceptionally valuable global indicators datasets and their documentation being shared by this scholar at the John F. Kennedy School of Government.

Polity IV
"Polity IV contains coded annual information on regime and authority characteristics for all independent states (with greater than 500,000 total population) in the global state system and covers the years 1800-2003." quoted from the web site.

Freedom House
"an annual assessment of the state of freedom in all countries (and select territories), now known as Freedom in the World. Individual countries are evaluated based on a checklist of questions on political rights and civil liberties" quoted from web site.

Transparency International
This international non-governmental organization devoted to fighting corruption collects information on corruption worldwide. See especially their Corruption Perceptions Index and Global Corruption Barometer Survey. For more corruption data, see the World Governance Indicators dataset above.

Political Terror Scale
A scale developed by Mark Gibney at University of North Carolina measuring government terror and political violence.

World Audit
Audit reports "re-examine the prevalence of public corruption, the state of human rights, political rights, free speech and the rule of law in 150 nations (all those exceeding one million population)." World Audit is an international not-for-profit company.

Penn World Table (PWT)
"provides purchasing power parity and national income accounts converted to international prices for 168 countries for some or all of the years 1950-2000. The European Union or the OECD provide more detailed purchasing power and real product estimates for their countries and the World Bank makes current price estimates for most PWT countries at the GDP level." quoted from web site.

World Business Environment Survey
"Administered to more than 10,000 firms in 80 countries in late 1999 and early 2000. Questions in the survey focused on the quality of the investment climate as shaped by domestic economic policy; governance; regulatory, infrastructure, and financial impediments; and assessments of the quality of public services." See also data resources from the World Bank.

Private Sector Development
Three reports and databases from the World Bank:

Global Competitiveness Report
This report from the World Economic Forum is "one of the leading monitors of the competitive condition of economies worldwide. ...The report is unique in that the methodology combines publicly available data with survey data that captures the perceptions and observations of business leaders in a given country." The Growth Competitiveness Index, a composite of three sub-indices, and the introduction to the report are available from the site (look in the right-hand column). The complete 2000 report is available in the Reference collection at HF 1414 .G559 2000

Economic Freedom of the World
Data and reports from the Fraser Institute, measuring the extent to which 127 nations allow their citizens economic freedom. The report contains detailed country tables. Data from 1970 to 2003 are available for download.

International Networks Archive
The INA collects current and historical data suitable for network analysis (e.g. communications, trade, tourism, etc.) and organizes links to other sources all organized by topic. You may need to contact the INA for full documentation of data, which is not always included.

International Crime Victimization Survey
"The International Crime Victim Survey (ICVS) is the most farreaching programme of standardised sample surveys to look a householders' experience with crime, policing, crime prevention and feelings of unsafety in a large number of countries."

APSA Submitted Datasets
The following data are available for download from the link above:

  • Alvarez, Cheibub, Limongi and Przeworski dataset on regimes and regime change
  • Segura-Kaufman dataset on globalization, domestic politics, and social spending in Latin America

2002 State New Economy Index of Globalization
Each of the 50 states are ranked by their globalization defined as "1) the extent to which the state's manufacturing workforce is employed producing goods for export, and 2) the share of the workforce employed by foreign-owned companies."

Polyarchy and Contestation Scales for 1985 and 2000
Compiled and made available for download by Michael Coppedge at the University of Notre Dame.

Return to top

data sources for regions

latin america

Statistical Abstract of Latin America.
CC Reference HA 935 .S79 (older editions back to 1962 in general stacks)
Reliable statistical series on societies, economies, and politics in Latin America.

ECLAC - UN's Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean
"The best source available on Latin American societies and economies" - Al Montero.

An annual public opinion survey of approximately 19,000 interviews in 18 countries in Latin America representing more than 400 million inhabitants.

LAPOP: Latin American Public Opinion Project
This project at Vanderbilt University has conducted over 40 public opinion surveys conducted in the Latin American region and Albania and Madagascar on such topics as system support, political tolerance, citizen participation, local government, corruption and views on authoritarianism. Some data are online. Carleton has access to a few datasets. Contact the social sciences librarian if interested.

LexisNexis Academic - Carleton Only
Use the Advanced Search feature to search the full-text of English, Spanish, and Portuguese language news articles.

LADB: Latin American Data Base
Search over 24,000 articles published in English about Latin America since 1986. Carleton does not subscribe to the full-text, so check the Electronic Journals List and the Bridge for access.

OxLAD: Oxford Latin American Economic History Database
"Contains statistical series for a wide range of economic and social indicators covering twenty countries in the region for the period 1900-2000." quoted from web site.

Internet Resources for Latin American and Iberian Studies
A guide maintained by the libraries at the University of California Santa Barbara. Includes indexes, primary sources, portals, resarch centeres, and more.

Latin America Resources
Professor Montero's page of links to research sources on Latin America.

Latin American Election Statistics: A Guide to Sources
This guide from the Latin American Studies Librarian at UC San Diego lists election resources by election by country in chronological format - an excellent source for those looking at Latin American elections.

Brazilian Politics Data
Links to resources relevant to Brazilian politics.

Carey Data Archive
Data compiled and made available for download by John Carey at Dartmouth. Datasets include:

  • Legislative voting
  • Primary elections in Latin America
  • Candidate Nomination strategies in Chile
  • U.S. State legislative term limits

Vote Shares by Bloc
"These are the percentages of the vote won by parties in various ideological blocs in more than 160 elections in 11 countries." quoted from web site. Compiled and made available by Michael Coppedge at Notre Dame.

Socio-Economic Database for Latin America and the Carribean, from CEDLAS, Universidad Nacional de La Plata and the World Bank's LAC Poverty Group (LCSPP) and MECOVI Program. Access statistics on poverty from 155 household surveys carried out in 21 Latin American and Carribean countries.


European Resources
Professor Montero's page of links to research sources on Europe.

National Institute of Economic and Social Research (NIESR)
The premier economic research institute in the U.K. publishes a quarterly journal, National Institute Economic Review. Each issue contains a UK and World Economies Forcast, which are frequently cited in the media. Carleton does not subscribe to this journal, but it is indexed in the EconLit database. Search for its title in EconLit and request articles you find there through Interlibrary Loan.

European Central Bank

European Commission

United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) Statistical Database
Contains data covering Europe, North America and Central Asia.

asia and the pacific

United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP)


United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (ECA)
This site has no "statistics" page, but the individual reports contain statistics.

middle east

United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia (ESCWA)
Access a variety of indicators

Statistical, Economic and Social Research and Training Center for Islamic Countries (SESRIC)
Excellent statistics database available at this site enables you to do cross-country comparison

developing countries

International Household Survey Network
Click on Central Survey Catalog to access a catalog of censuses and surveys done in developing countries, with metadata.

Return to top

elections, policymaking and political institutions

International Almanac of Electoral History
CC Books JF1001 .M17 1982
Also available from ICPSR as study number 8247

International Encyclopedia of Elections
CC Reference Books JF1001 .I57 2000

World Encyclopedia of Parliaments and Legislatures
CC Reference JF511 .W67 1998 v. 1-2

World Encyclopedia of Political Systems and Parties
CC Reference JF2011 .W67 1999 v. 1-3

Multinational Elections
From the University of Michigan's Documents Center, an exstensive list of elections data on the web.

Election World
This site, maintained by Wilfried Derksen, allows you to select a country, then view recent elections results along with other pertinent political information.  Note: yes, this is now hosted at Wikipedia.

Lijphart Elections Archive
"A research collection of district level election results for approximately 350 national legislative elections in 26 countries." quoted from the web site.

Adam Carr's Election Archive
"Largest, most comprehensive archive of electoral information in the world, with election statistics from 174 countries." quoted from the web site.

Center on Democratic Performance at Binghamton University
A collection of data on presidential and national legislative elections from 134 countries that have minimum ratings of 5.5 rating on Freedom House and 6 on Polity IV.

Democratic Electoral Systems Around the World, 1946-2000
A dataset "that covers the electoral institutions used in all of the democratic legislative and presidential elections in 199 countries between 1946 (or independence) and 2000. This amounts to 867 legislative elections and 294 presidential elections" (quoted from site) compiled by Matt Golder, Florida State University.

Europa World Yearbook
Contains statistics from most recent elections: vote totals and number of seats in each country's parliament

Elections and Electoral Systems Around the World
Arranged by country, links to election information.

NationMaster - Election Results by Country
NationMaster draws from many data sources to provide reports, rankings, and statistics that can frequently be viewed as graphs or maps.

Election Resources on the Internet
This site, maintained by Manuel Alvarez-Rivera, contains links to election results by country.

Vote World: The International Legislative Roll-Call Voting Website
"Vote World is a central website which archives, maintains, and distributes datasets of roll-call voting from legislative bodies throughout the international community. The nucleus of the website contains data for the United States House of Representative and Senate (assembled by Keith Poole of Houston and Howard Rosenthal of Princeton), from the European Parliament (assembled by Simon Hix of LSE, Abdul Noury of ULB and Gerard Roland from UC Berkeley), and from the United Nations (assembled by Erik Voeten). The United States data covers the entire history of Congress from 1789 until the present."

Liesbet Hooghe (UNC Chapel Hill)
Two datasets compiled and made available for download with full documentation. The first is interview data on "political views of top Commission officials on the role of the European Commission and the working and future of the European Union." The second dataset is survey data on party positioning on European integration.

Carey Data Archive
Data compiled and made available for download by John Carey at Dartmouth. Datasets include:

  • Legislative voting
  • Primary elections in Latin America
  • Candidate Nomination strategies in Chile
  • U.S. State legislative term limits

Scott Morgenstern (Duke University)
District-Level Electoral Data from around the World.

Mathew Singer (Duke graduate student)
This site aims to "highlight and provide links to on-line sources of complete electoral results at the constituency level." It also contains additional recent electoral results compiled in Excel files by the site author.

See constantly growing list of additional electoral data resources (compiled by social sciences librarian).

Return to top

Public Opinion

World Values Survey
This valuable (very large) survey available for download from ICPSR (requires signing up for an account) consists of surveys that "study the values and attitudes of mass publics across nations of different economic, educational, and cultural backgrounds." The unit of analysis is individual survey-takers, however, so if you need country-level data, see first Pippa Norris's dataset below. The WVS data include:

  • The importance of work, family, friends, leisure time, politics, and religion.
  • Attitudes toward government and religion, including how often respondents participated in group activities within religious and government organizations.
  • Perceptions of economic, ethnic, religious, and political groups and feelings of trust and closeness toward these groups.
  • Assessment of the relative importance of major problems facing the world and willingness to participate in solutions.
  • Self-reported assessments of happiness and class identity.
  • Demographic information includes family income, number of people residing in the home, size of locality, home ownership, region of residence, occupation of the head of household, and the respondent's age, sex, occupation, education, religion, religiosity, political party and union membership, and left-right political self-placement.

Those looking for public opinion/confidence surveys should see also the Eurobarometer and the LatinĂ³barometro surveys.

ISSP: International Social Survey Program
Carleton does not have direct access to these data, but they can be purchased from the web site.

CSES: Comparative Study of Electoral Systems
Registration (free) required to download data.


East Asia Barometer

ESS: European Social Survey
Registration (free) required to download data.

Pew Global Attitudes Survey

Gallup International Voice of the People

Return to top

comparative welfare state data

Comparative Welfare Entitlements Dataset
Up-to-date data on welfare systems in OECD countries prepared and made available by Lyle Scruggs at the University of Connecticut.

Unions, Employers, Collective Bargaining and Industrial Relations Dataset
For 16 OECD countries, 1950-1995. Collected, coded and made available by Miriam Golden (ULCA), Michael Wallerstein (Yale University) and Peter Lange (Duke).

Comparative Welfare States Data Set
Original dataset (1997) by Evelyne Huber, Charles Ragin, and John D. Stephens updated (2004) by David Brady, Jason Beckfield, and John Stephens.

Luxembourg Income Study
"The LIS database is a collection of household income surveys. These surveys provide demographic, income and expenditure information on three different levels: household, person and child." quote from web site.

Duane Swank's Comparative Parties Data Set

Return to top

inequality data

WIDER World Income Inequality Database (WIID)
The World Institute for Development Economics Research (WIDER) provides the WIID2a, which incorporates an earlier version of this dataset with updates from sources such as the Deininger & Squire database (World Bank) and the Luxembourg Income Study and Transmonee. It measures income inequality using the Gini coefficient from reported sources as well as those calculated by WIDER, for developed, developing and transition countries.

This resource from the World Bank draws together "information on poverty measurement, monitoring, analysis, and on poverty reduction strategies for researchers and practitioners." See especially the page Data on Poverty and Inequality.

Return to top

additional help

Dictionary of Statistics & Methodology: A Nontechnical Guide for the Social Sciences. By W. Paul Vogt, 2005.
CC Reference HA 17 .V64 2005
A great source to help clarify concepts like categorical and nominal variables.

The Oxford Dictionary of Statistical Terms. Edited by Yadolah Dodge, 2003.
CC Reference 17 .K4 2003
A highly respected source. Entries contain references to an extensive bibliography.
For those of you trying to find historical data, try the Eco5 portal. Select "historical data & forecasts" then click "global" for sources of comparative data.

Gini index
Looking for a gini coefficient variable for your dataset? Read the post linked here.

Return to top

This Research Guide By:

  • Kristin Partlo
    • Reference & Instruction Librarian for Social Sciences & Data
    • x7668
    • Gould Library 466