Data Is Plural

... is a weekly newsletter of useful/curious datasets.

2016.10.05 edition

Foreign aid, global schooling, student loans, R&D budgets, and six billion vehicles’ worth of traffic.

Global foreign aid. AidData, an organization based at the College of William & Mary, has compiled a dataset of more than 1.5 million foreign aid projects between 1947 and 2013. Together, the dataset accounts for more than $7 trillion in commitments from 96 donors such as the U.S. government, UNICEF, the Nordic Development Fund, and the World Bank. AidData also publishes geospatial datasets and a data user guide. Previously:, featured Jan. 13. [h/t Kedar Pavgi]

Educational attainment. Researchers at the Vienna-based Wittgenstein Centre for Demography and Global Human Capital have developed a dataset of historical and projected education levels for 171 countries. For five-year age groups in each country, the project estimates the percentage of people in each of several categories of educational attainment — no education, primary education, secondary education, post-secondary education, and a few gradations in between. The dataset is available to browse and download via the Wittgenstein Centre Data Explorer – look for “Educational Attainment Distribution” in the “indicators” dropdown.

Student loan default rates. The federal government publishes default rates for federal student loans, aggregated by school, state, and school type. Last week, it published data covering students whose loans were due for repayment beginning in FY2013.The national default rate for those students as of this August was 11.3%. At certain schools, however, more than a third of students defaulted. More: Some background on the 10 colleges with highest default rates, by my colleague Molly Hensley-Clancy.

R&D spending. The UNESCO Institute for Statistics’ data on national research and development budgets contains estimates of personnel and total spending by field, funding source, and more. You can also explore the data online through a series of interactive graphics. [h/t Rebecca Galloway]

Highway traffic. FOIA enthusiast Max Galka received a month of highway traffic data from the U.S. Department of Transportation. The dataset “includes hourly traffic counts for each hour of each day of [November 2015] at approximately 4,000 continuous traffic counting locations nationwide.” In all, the dataset “amounts to a total of 14 million traffic count readings and a total of 6 billion vehicles counted.”