Data Science for SBS: FSRDC Info Session Recap

Hosted by CSBS, the FSRDC Information Session introduced researchers to the capabilities and benefits of utilizing the Illinois Federal Statistical Research Data Center (FSRDC). The event was particularly geared towards social and behavioral scientists interested in accessing a wealth of restricted-use microdata for their research projects. FSRDCs are partnerships between the U.S. Census Bureau, other federal statistical agencies, and research institutions. The data available through the Illinois FSRDC can be used to answer an infinite number of questions with implications for public policy in numerous fields.

Michael Lotspeich-Yadao
Lanwei Yang

During the event, Lanwei Yang, an economist and administrator at the U.S. Census Bureau, described the types of data and resources available through the FSRDC. Michael Lotspeich-Yadao, a research assistant professor in Kinesiology and Community Health, shared insights from his seven-year experience within the FSRDC network. He discussed his project on repurposing federal journey-to-work data to delineate rural food environments, highlighting how these data help to understand the community contexts that influence health outcomes in military-connected communities.  

The Illinois FSRDC grants access to detailed datasets from several federal agencies, including the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, Bureau of Economic Analysis, Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Census Bureau, National Center for Health Statistics, and the National Center for Science and Engineering Statistics.   Through the FSRDC, researchers can explore data at granular geographic levels, select from a broad array of variables, and use large samples. FSRDCs operate as secure computing labs where qualified researchers perform approved statistical analysis on restricted-access data managed by the Census Bureau.  

Researchers can leverage these datasets to explore a variety of issues such as the effects of policy changes on local communities, business reactions to economic shifts, and the influence of various factors on health outcomes. Examples of previous analysis from other FSRDCs include labor market dynamics, migration, productivity, business innovation, social program impacts, international trade, and health insurance utilization, and more.  

Illinois researchers can access the center at no cost with a background check and approved research proposal. This approval process ensures that the projects will utilize the data effectively and provide tangible benefits to the Census Bureau. Through the center, researchers can benefit from collaborative opportunities to conduct statistical analysis on highly sensitive data with other institutions in the FSRDC network.