GIS Data & Literature in the Social Sciences


Some GIS Data Sources for the Social Sciences
Global Datasets, by Topic
  • Multi-topic
    • DIVA-GIS - Free data on roads, railroads, altitude, population density, land cover, LandSat imagery, and other things...
    • Natural Earth - wealth of global GIS data ranging from physical geographic features to urban areas, roads, airports and more.
    • G-Econ - Yale University's Geographically Based Economic Data (G-Econ) estimates level of economic activity at 1-degree cell resolution for the world.  Available for several years, and includes many other data at the 1-degree cell size.
    • History Database of the Global Environment (HYDE): HYDE presents (gridded) time series of population and land use for the last 12,000 years. It also presents various other indicators such as GDP, value added, livestock, agricultural areas and yields, private consumption, greenhouse gas emissions and industrial production data, but only for the last century.
  • Demography & Income
    • CIESIN - Columbia University's Center for Earth International Earth Science Information Network.  Includes lots of global and country-level GIS data on population, urban/rural populations and extents, health, land cover, natural resources and many other topics.
    • G-Econ - Yale University's Geographically Based Economic Data (G-Econ) estimates level of economic activity at 1-degree cell resolution for the world.  Available for several years, and includes many other data at the 1-degree cell size.
    • History Database of the Global Environment (HYDE): HYDE presents (gridded) time series of population and land use for the last 12,000 years. It also presents various other indicators such as GDP, value added, livestock, agricultural areas and yields, private consumption, greenhouse gas emissions and industrial production data, but only for the last century.
  • Infrastructure
    • DIVA-GIS - Free data on roads, railroads, altitude, population density, land cover, LandSat imagery, and other things...
    • Open Street Map - Crowd-sourced street maps for the whole world, downloadable for use in a GIS. 
    • GSM Roaming and Coverage MapsGSM Coverage Maps is a unique resource containing information supplied and approved by the members of the GSM Association. Network, Services and Roaming information are continually updated to reflect the evolving situation worldwide. Interactive coverage maps, updated quarterly, allow you to navigate to see where exactly you can use your phone.
    • Natural Earth - wealth of global GIS data ranging from physical geographic features to urban areas, roads, airports and more.
  • Agriculture
    • EarthStat - Lots of global gridded data on crop areas (including by crop), pastureland, yields, fertilizer use, and others.
    • SAGE - Center for Sustainability and the Global Environment has lots of environment- and agriculture-related data.
    • GRACE: NASA satellite data measuring underground water storage using gravity changes.
    • Gridded Yield Changes under 1-3 degree of Global WarmingFor maize, rice, soy and wheat (Moore et al., in press)
    • History Database of the Global Environment (HYDE): HYDE presents (gridded) time series of population and land use for the last 12,000 years. It also presents various other indicators such as GDP, value added, livestock, agricultural areas and yields, private consumption, greenhouse gas emissions and industrial production data, but only for the last century.
    • Land Matrix: Online Public Database in Land Deals. A global and independent land monitoring initiative that promotes transparency and accountability in decisions over land and investment.  This website is a Global Observatory - an open tool for collecting and visualising information about large-scale land acquisitions.
    • The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) AgroMaps Project has subnational time-varying data on agricultural production and yields at subnational administrative levels.
  • Health
    • DHS - The Demographic and Health Surveys are done for many developing countries and include georeferenced samples.  Variables include
      • Physical assets
      • Health measures
      • Education
      • Fertility history
    • Malaria Ecology Index - From Kiszewski et al. (2004), it indicates strength of malaria transmission based on local temperatures, precipitation, and human biting preference of the locally dominant Anopheles.  Extended in Anttila-Hughes and McCord (2016), and validated against children's malaria positivity from bloodwork in DHS surveys.
  • Conflict
  • Environment
    • IPUMS Terra - integrates census data from around the world with global environmental data
    • GRACE: NASA satellite data measuring underground water storage using gravity changes.
    • Gridded Yield Changes under 1-3 degree of Global Warming: For maize, rice, soy and wheat (Moore et al., in press)
    • The United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) has a repository of geospatial data called the Environmental Data Explorer.
    • History Database of the Global Environment (HYDE): HYDE presents (gridded) time series of population and land use for the last 12,000 years. It also presents various other indicators such as GDP, value added, livestock, agricultural areas and yields, private consumption, greenhouse gas emissions and industrial production data, but only for the last century.
  • Weather and Climate
  • Hazards
    • CIESIN Natural Disaster Hotspots: (direct link to data here
    • Dartmouth Flood Observatory
    • UNEP Global Risk Data Platform: The PREVIEW Global Risk Data Platform is a multiple agencies effort to share spatial data information on global risk from natural hazards. Users can visualise, download or extract data on past hazardous events, human & economical hazard exposure and risk from natural hazards. It covers tropical cyclones and related storm surges, drought, earthquakes, biomass fires, floods, landslides, tsunamis and volcanic eruptions. The collection of data is made via a wide range of partners (see About for data sources). This was developed as a support to the Global Assessment Report on Disaster Risk Reduction (GAR) and replace the previous PREVIEW platform already available since 2000. Many improvements were made on the data and on the application.

By Region or Country: