Data Is Plural

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

2019.12.04 edition

Income inequality, ambassadorial qualifications, Samoa’s measles outbreak, science PhD candidates, and the Database of British and Irish Hills.

Income inequality around the world, over time. Political scientist Frederick Solt’s Standardized World Income Inequality Database provides annual Gini coefficients for 196 countries and territories. For many, the calculations go back to the 1960s. The database draws on hundreds of sources, including international organizations, national statistical offices, and academic studies. In an accompanying paper, Solt argues that the SWIID represents an improvement over other similar efforts, such as the United Nations University’s World Income Inequality Database (DIP 2016.06.01). [h/t Y. Julia Jung]

Ambassadorial qualifications. The Foreign Service Act of 1980 requires US presidents to provide Congress a “report on the demonstrated competence” for each ambassadorial nominee. In 2014, the government began disclosing these records, which had long been held secret. But the government’s policy applied only to new nominees. Law professor Ryan Scoville, however, used the Freedom of Information Act to pry loose the rest — more than three decades of concise biographies — and, earlier this year, put them online, accompanied by a dataset that describes the nominees’ qualifications and political contributions. Related: “Unqualified Ambassadors,” Scoville’s Duke Law Journal article on the topic, and his summary in Lawfare. [h/t u/smurfyjenkins]

Samoa’s measles outbreak. The Samoan government has been tweeting updates regarding the country’s measles crisis. Epidemiologist Chris von Csefalvay has been converting those tweets into a simple dataset that counts the number of cases and deaths (by age group) at the time of each tweet.

Science PhD candidates. Last month, Nature released findings and response data from its fifth survey of science graduate students. The questionnaire covered demographics, motivations, ambitions, satisfaction, mental health, and other topics. More than 6,000 students participated, including 1,000+ each living in Europe, the Americas, and Asia. Related: Nature’s editorial board calls for “urgent attention” to students’ mental health. [h/t Mattias Björnmalm]

British Isle bumps. The Database of British and Irish Hills began 20 years ago and now catalogs more than 20,000 bits of bumpy terrain. The data files include detailed coordinates, map references, and descriptive characteristics. [h/t Declan Valters]