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You may hear the terms statistics and data used interchangeably, but knowing the differences will help you find what you need for your research:
Statistics: Charts, tables, graphs - these are all examples of statistics. Statistics are derived from data, and are usually easy to read and use. Statistics work well for getting some quick numbers in a visual format that you can include in a report.
Data: Data are raw numbers, and come in large files called datasets. You have to use documentation (codebooks) and specialized software such as SPSS, Stata, SAS, or Excel to access, analyze, and interpret the data. Most data come in machine-readable format only. Use data when you want to create your own analysis and interpretation.
A few questions to consider when looking for data and statistics:
Time period: What are the years you need information for? Will you need historical data, or something more current?
Geography: What country, region, state, county, city are you researching, or need data for?
Organization: What type of organization or research agency would be most likely to collect the data?
Unit, or level of detail: What are the units you're searching for? For example, are you looking at countries, states, or cities? Individuals or households?
Although some of these sites may also point you to data, they are also great resources for statistics.