Monthly Archives: November 2012

World Bank Microdata Library

The World Bank Microdata Library is a service established to facilitate access to microdata that provide information about people living in developing countries, their institutions, their environment, their communities and the operation of their economies. It includes datasets that have been produced by the World Bank, such as impact evaluation of the Bank’s operations or research on development issues, as well as datasets from other international organizations, statistical agencies and other agencies in low and middle-income countries.

The microdata in the Microdata Library have been collected through sample surveys of households, business establishments or other facilities. Datasets may also originate from population, housing or agricultural censuses or through an administrative data collection processes.

The Microdata Library is comprised of a number of Contributing Catalogs. These catalogs can be browsed and searched individually or centrally from the Central Microdata Catalog. The Central Microdata Catalog operates as a portal for all microdata held in the Microdata Library.

All data and surveys within the Microdata Library are documented in compliance with international standards and practices.  The data is free of charge however some datasets, particularly those that did not produced by the World Bank, may be subject to specific terms of use.

Help with using the datasets in the World Bank Microdata Library or with other data is available in the Digital Social Science Data Service in Lehman Library,  Stop by the DSSC Data Service on weekdays or email us at dssc.data@columbia.edu.

“Lincoln,” the Emancipation Proclamation and the 13th Amendment

Yesterday I went to see the new Spielberg film, "Lincoln," with Daniel Day-Lewis in the title role. While I was expecting (and received) a subtle and commanding performance, what I did not expect was a concise and exacting account of the passage of the 13th Amendment to the Constitution of the United States of America. President Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation on January 1, 1863,but the freedom that it granted was restricted and possibly would not last after the war was over. Lincoln felt that in order to permanently banish slavery from the U.S. a constitutional amendment was needed. It was not an easy task.

The measure passed the Senate in the spring of 1864, but the required two thirds majority was much more difficult to obtain in the House of Representatives, where Democrats had made gains in the 1862 elections. Lincoln put intense pressure on Democrats who had been defeated in the 1864 elections to vote with Republicans in the House, so that the vote for the amendment could be seen as a bipartisan effort. His efforts succeeded and the Thirteenth Amendment was eventually ratified by the states in December 1865, eight months after Lincoln's assassination.

Want to know more? The film was partially based on Doris Kearns Goodwin's "Team of Rivals: the Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln."

The Fiscal Cliff …

Now that the 2012 elections are over, people have time to begin to worry about the looming "fiscal cliff," as characterized by Ben Bernanke, the chairman of the Federal Reserve. What is this fiscal cliff? Essentially, it is a "perfect storm" of $500 billion in tax increases and across-the-board spending cuts which are scheduled to take effect in 2013. These measures result from a number of factors which have coincidentally come together at one time, creating the fiscal cliff.

In an effort to address the rising national debt and deficit spending, President Obama created the bipartisan National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform, in February 2010, which was charged with "identifying policies to improve the fiscal situation in the medium term and to achieve fiscal sustainability over the long run." The final report of the Commission was released in December 2010 — The Moment of Truth. But a super majority of the members of the Commission itself failed to endorse it — the vote was 11-7, and 14 votes were needed for endorsement. The negative votes were cast by four Democrats and three Republicans. This created a standoff between the President and Congress over raising the debt ceiling. This resulted in a budget deal which required Congress to identify $1.2 trillion in savings by January or face deep automatic spending cuts across the board. Congress has so far failed to do so.

Additionally, a large number of tax cuts are set to expire in January 2013 without Congressional action. Emergency unemployment benefits are set to expire at the end of 2012, and a 2-percentage point cut in payroll taxes is also expiring. The Government Accountability Office has prepared updated analysis on the fiscal outlook for the federal government.

Internet Archive TV News Collection

The Internet Archive TV News now contains an online collection of all tv news since 2009 from national U.S. networks.  The collection contains 350,000 news programs and transcripts collected over 3 years and is updated with new broadcasts 24 hours after they are aired.  Search from selected topics, or customize a search by keyword, network, station, and program title!  Try it, and let me know what you think!