Data Is Plural

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

2021.12.29 edition

Local mortality and the 1918 pandemic, religious congregations, COVID-era news layoffs, leaders’ economic persuasions, and root traits.

Local mortality and the 1918 pandemic. Martin Eiermann, Elizabeth Wrigley-Field, et al. have conducted an analysis of deaths before, during, and after the 1918 influenza pandemic, drawing on “data from multiple sources, including digitized mortality records for 70 U.S. cities, linked census records that establish urban residency status across multiple censuses” and newspaper accounts of non-pharmaceutical interventions. The team’s published files includes a dataset that, for each city-and-year, lists the mortality rate overall, for white vs. non-white residents, and due to flu/pneumonia; a range of demographic variables; the timing of certain interventions; and more.

Religious congregations. The Association of Religion Data Archives, founded in 1997, “strives to democratize access to the best data on religion.” Among its resources are four waves of the National Congregations Study, a Duke University–based survey that asks US religious establishments about their denominational affiliation, buildings of worship, congregants, staffing, educational offerings, and more. Representatives from 5,300+ Christian, Jewish, Muslim, Buddhist, Hindu, and other congregations participated in the latest wave, conducted in 2018–19. [h/t Patricia Homan and Amy Burdette + Kevin Lewis]

COVID-era news layoffs. “At least 6,154 news organization workers, which includes both editorial and non-editorial staffers, were laid off beginning March 2020 through August 2021,” according to a new report from the Tow Center’s Gabby Miller. An interactive tracker provides a map and downloadable table of the layoffs and other cutbacks, listing each outlet’s name, medium, owner, and location; the cutback’s date, description, and category (layoffs, pay cuts, etc.); and source links. Related: The Washington Post Magazine’s Lost Local News issue.

Leaders’ economic persuasions. Political scientist Bastian Herre’s new Global Leader Ideology dataset “provides unprecedented coverage of chief executives’ [economic] ideologies across time and space,” classifying their approaches as leftist, centrist, rightist, or non-ideological in 182 countries, from 1945 to 2020. Read more: Herre’s introductory paper and Twitter thread.

Root traits. Oak Ridge National Laboratory’s Fine-Root Ecology Database categorizes the root characteristics of 4,500+ plant species, as observed and published in scientific literature. The hundreds of types of traits relate to vessel density, root angles, lifespan, macronutrients, microbial symbionts, and more.