U.S. Census Research Data Center To Open at Penn State

Penn State has already established itself as a world-renowned research institution. Now, it gets to count people.

Beginning in January 2014, Penn State will house one of 16 U.S. Census Research Data Centers. This means approved researchers will be given access to hard-to-obtain economic and census data.

“Today, researchers need to travel to Washington, D.C. for restricted versions of data sets,” said Jennifer Van Hook, the project’s principal investigator and professor of sociology and demography. “It’s like you’re stepping into a virtual part of the Census Bureau.”

The other 15 centers are located in major cities and research hubs across the nation. All have access to the same information, giving Penn State the opportunity to collaborate with other researchers.

The Census Bureau will provide training to Penn State researchers using the confidential data. An employee of the Census Bureau will oversee day-to-day operations at Pattee/Paterno Library.

The data center will be an important resource tool for faculty and graduate students studying economics, demography, statistics, sociology, and health services.

“For economics faculty members, this means everything,” said Mark Roberts, professor of economics and the center’s first director. “Every five years, the bureau conducts a census on retail, wholesale, and manufacturing. Those data are never released publicly, but the center will provide this useful data. It will be extremely valuable for research projects.”

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Jessica Tully

Jessica Tully is a first-year law student at Penn State's Dickinson School of Law. She graduated in May 2014 with degrees in journalism and political science.


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