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QUEST - Statistics and Data

In QUEST, you will need to use a lot of statistics to establish the scope (how many people are affected by the issue?) and severity (what effects does it have on them and their lives?) of your social issue. This is the first step to changing any social problem. Stats tend to be gathered mostly by government and intergovernmental agencies, universities, and reliable nonprofit organizations. See below for some of the places to get started.

PowerPoint: How to get started on gathering scope and severity data

Example of how to annotate a page of a source with a lot of data/charts/graphs


USA Facts


American Fact Finder

Draws from a variety of U.S. government statistics sources


U.S. Census Bureau


Pew Research Center

A large nonprofit, nonpartisan organization that conducts surveys on a wide variety of U.S. issues. Widely regarded as a neutral source with good methodology.



A large U.S. polling company. Have you ever heard, "according to a Gallup poll..."? That was these guys.


Public Policy Institute of California

A nonpartisan "think tank" and research organization co-founded in 1994 by a UC Berkeley chancellor, the former dean of Stanford Business School, and the co-founder of the Hewlett-Packard company. Conducts polls and organizes conferences on a variety of social issues.



CDC--National Center for Health Statistics


CDC--Fast Stats


Medline Plus Health Stats (a service of the National Library of Medicine)


National Center for Biotechnology Information


National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH)


American Psychological Association data links page

Some of these require user registration, but many are open-access 


Pub Med (medical research studies, many available in full text)


Stats on immunizations/vaccinations


Food and Nutrition Data, Dept. of Agriculture


National Cancer Institute Stats


Cancer Statistics, also from NCI



Hunger: California Association of Food Banks data page


California Dept. of Social Services Data page

Provides data from the State of California on hunger, services for people with disabilities, services for children, etc.


Poverty: Census Bureau data


Economy at a Glance (Bureau of Labor Statistics)


Homelessness: the American Housing Survey

Co-sponsored by HUD (U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development) and the U.S. Census Bureau


Homelessness: HUD data


Homelessness: Harvard University Joint Center for Housing Studies


Employment: Bureau of Labor Statistics  


Occupational Outlook Handbook: Includes stats on jobs gathered by the BLS (see above)


U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission Stats



National Science Foundation

Click on the blue button "Explore the Data"


National Center for Science and Engineering Statistics


Stats on Tech jobs


Pew Research--Internet and Technology



*NOTE: QUEST is based on human social issues, so if you choose an environmental topic, make sure to keep your focus on the human impact (ex: health, economic, etc.) of that environmental problem.

Cal Enviro Screen



National Center for Education Statistics


Education Fast Facts


Teachers' use of educational technology


U.S. Dept. of Ed Statistics links


Arts education in schools


Arts education in schools


Students with disabilities


Students with disabilities

How many students with disabilities receive services?



Bureau of Justice Statistics

Criminal justice system topics


Crime Statistics from the FBI


Hate Crime Statistics from the FBI


Mapping Police Violence


Stanford Open Policing Project



*TIP: For this topic, it is helpful to think of ways in which discrimination appears that can be measured, and look those up separately. For example: hate crimes, employment discrimination, housing discrimination, etc.


LGBT Issues--Williams Institute, UCLA School of Law

This think tank within UCLA law school conducts research on LGBT issues and does an LGBT analysis of the U.S. Census to answer questions like how many Americans are gay/lesbian/bisexual/transgender/etc.


Hate Crime Statistics from the FBI



Bureau of Transportation Statistics

National Highway Traffic Safety Administration


Statistics about Sports (from the President's Council on Fitness, Sports, and Nutrition)


Statistics about arts (National Endowment for the Arts--NEA)


U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission--injuries and deaths associated with various activities


Immigration--Pew Research


Immigration--U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services


Immigration--Dept. of Homeland Security


Pro Tips: 

1. Not finding what you need? Try Google's Site Operator:

A great deal of the statistical information collected on social issues in the U.S. is collected by government agencies or by government-funded researchers. Try using Google's site operator to focus in on government sources and other sources that collect a lot of data, like universities and nonprofits. How? Put your search terms (alzheimer's statistics, early childhood education data, sports injury statistics, etc) into the Google search box, followed by a space, then the word site, followed by a colon, and then the domain suffix (.gov, .edu, .org) that you want to search. There should be NO SPACES AFTER THE WORD "SITE." This is how it looks:


homeless youth statistics


racial discrimination statistics


2. Don't be fooled or impressed just because you see numbers! Think critically about statistics:

“Graphs are not always what they seem. There may be more in them than meets the eye, and there may be a good deal less." --Darrell Huff, How to Lie with Statistics.

Look for things like:

Base rate for increases/decreases/comparisons: "35% more..."--more than what?

Definition of terms: When they say ‘seniors' what age are they counting? Did they ask survey respondents to choose their own racial/ethnic group, or did researchers decide?

Sample size: How many people were surveyed/studied?

Sampling method: Did they choose people at random or did they pick people out of a particular group (ex: students at an Ivy League university; Republican voters; Fox News versus NPR audience members)? Did people apply to be part of the study?

3. Look for reasons for a difference between two sources. If one of your sources says 45% of adolescents experience depression, and another source says 30%, why the difference? Is one source newer? Does one source have a difference in how they define "adolescent" that could cause the rates to change? (ie; 13-18 years old versus 13-25...the person defining "adolescent" the second way would have a bigger number, right?)

4. How old is too old?

It takes a while to collect statistics on a large number of people, so if the data you have is from 2016 and it's 2017, you might not be able to get numbers that are newer. But if you find a great report with some really awesome stats, but it seems a little old to you, it is possible that the group or agency has done this report again more recently. Try searching for the same report online and adding a more recent year, ex: American Housing Survey 2017