The datasets we’re looking at this week


you read Data is plural, a weekly newsletter of useful/curious datasets. Below you will find the August 3, 2022, editionreprinted with permission from FiveThirtyEight.

edition 2022.07.03

Benefit plans, European farmlands, Christianity in China, data governance assessments and diplomatic gifts.

Employee benefit plans. U.S. companies that offer their employees a retirement plan, such as a pension or 401(k), must report details of those plans via Form 5500 – a creation of the IRS, Department of Labor and Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation. Employers providing health plans, vacations, or other benefits to more than 100 workers generally must report these as well. The Department of Labor publishes datasets with details of all Form 5500 submissions dating back to 1999, as well as a search tool that dates back to 2010. Related: Through a FOIA request, Dan Bauman obtained decades of metadata on more than 80,000 “top hat” statements, which relate to plans “providing deferred compensation to a select group of executives or highly paid employees.” [h/t Vincent Cocula]

European cultivated lands. The EuroCrops project by Maja Schneider et al. combines “all publicly available self-declared crop declaration datasets from European Union countries”. So far, this universe corresponds to all or parts of 16 countries. The project datasets include various attributes from the original data files, the geographic coordinates of each agricultural plot, and the primary crop type of each plot, which the authors normalized using a taxonomy they have designed.

Christianity in China. The China Historical Christian Database, a project based at Boston University’s School of Theology, covers the years 1550 to 1950. Launched last week, it provides “tools for discovering where each Christian church, school , hospital, orphanage, publishing house and others were located in China,” plus “who worked inside those buildings, both foreign and Chinese.” The database, downloadable and searchable online, describes more of 33,000 people, more than 7,000 organizations, the relationships between these entities and more.

Data governance assessments. A new report from George Washington University’s Digital Trade and Data Governance Hub assesses 68 countries on their approaches to data governance. It scores each country on 26 indicators in 6 categories – for example, whether it has a personal data protection law, publishes an open data portal and/or states that it adheres to the OECD Principles on AI. Previously: The World Data Barometer (DIP 2022.05.18). [h/t Susan Ariel Aaronson]

Diplomatic gifts. Federal employees are not expected to accept major gifts from foreign governments. But exceptions do occur, such as “when it appears that refusing the gift would cause offense or embarrassment,” and agencies must report these exceptions annually in the Federal Register. In 2020, Alex Cookson retrieved and analyzed these reports, providing information (donor name and country, recipient name and agency, gift description and value) on more than 8,300 gifts from 1999 to 2018. Previously: Congressional “Gift Trip” (DIP 2016.04.27).

Suggestions for datasets? Critical? To rent out? Send your comments to [email protected] Looking for past datasets? This spreadsheet has them all. Visit data-is-plural.com to subscribe and browse previous editions.

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