Baruch College President Kathleen Waldron and Director of the U.S. Bureau of the Census Charles Louis Kincannon today opened a state-of-the-art facility that provides secure access to Census Bureau microdata for approved research. The New York Census Research Data Center (NYCRDC) is located at Baruch College’s School of Public Affairs (SPA) on East 22nd Street in Manhattan. Only eight other such facilities operate nationwide.
The Census Research Data Center (RDC) network in the United States has contributed research findings that provide new insights into changes in the economy and society. In addition, the analysis of microdata by researchers has yielded useful feedback to the Census Bureau about the quality of the household and business surveys and data programs and the statistics generated from them. The RDCs provide access to uniquely detailed information on employment, poverty, housing, manufacturing, trade, and other U.S. economic conditions.
The New York Census Research Data Center is a collaborative effort of Baruch College/CUNY, Columbia University, Cornell University, the City University of New York, the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, Fordham University, the National Bureau of Economic Research, New York University, Pace University, Princeton University, Russell Sage Foundation, Rutgers University, the University at Albany/SUNY, Stony Brook University/SUNY, Yale University, and the Census Bureau’s Center for Economic Studies.
Baruch College President Waldron said, “The New York Census Research Data Center will join the nation’s eight other census research data centers. In addition to giving researchers the opportunity to study important economic, demographic, and public policy issues of significance to New York and beyond, the New York Census Research Data Center at Baruch hopes to foster cross-institutional collaboration among researchers in the greater New York area.”
“I am pleased to join President Waldron in establishing a pioneering center where researchers can analyze a wealth of data – under full confidentiality – that will help us better understand the dynamics of our economy and the characteristics of our diverse population,” Kincannon said.
Baruch College School of Public Affairs Professor Sanders Korenman, a Research Associate of the National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER), is Executive Director of the NYCRDC. Professor Korenman is responsible for overseeing the Center, initiating outreach, and collaborating with the directors of other RDCs. He assumed this position last fall, succeeding the project’s initial Executive Director, Professor Neil Bennett. Dr. Rosemary Hyson, an economist, is the administrator for NYCRDC Baruch. She assists researchers with developing proposals, sets up their access to the data, and ensures that confidentiality requirements are met.
The NYCRDC plans to hold periodic presentations of its on-going research. In addition, this September, NYCRDC Baruch will host researchers working at RDCs around the country at the 2006 Census RDC Annual Conference. The RDC Annual conference features presentations of work from the RDCs and the Center for Economic Studies as well as information on RDC data and issues of interest to the Census Bureau. The conference is open to the research community.
At the Research Data Centers, researchers whose proposals have met the Census Bureau’s rigorous standards can access economic (business) and demographic data gathered by the U.S. Census Bureau. In addition to its decennial demographic census, the Census Bureau conducts censuses and surveys of businesses and surveys of households and individuals. Such data, particularly those for businesses, are not available to the public as microdata files. All research conducted in the RDCs must meet the criteria of benefits to the Census Bureau, scientific merit, need for non-public data, feasibility, and disclosure risk avoidance.
Several New York area researchers worked to bring the NYCRDC into existence. In 2003, Neil Bennett of Baruch teamed up with Erica Groshen and Bart Hobjin of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York and Robert Lipsey of NBER to obtain National Science Foundation (NSF) support for creating an RDC in New York City. To make the case for locating a RDC in New York City, researchers from Columbia, NYU, Baruch, CUNY, Queens, Hunter and the University at Albany contributed descriptions of research that they would not otherwise be able to undertake without access to the non-public data at an RDC. Stan Altman, former Dean of the School of Public Affairs, along with the Provost and President of Baruch College, committed to providing the physical space at 135 East 22nd Street to house the NYCRDC. To fund the renovation of the physical space in order to meet the requirements for operating a secure research data center, support was obtained from the office of then Manhattan Borough President C. Virginia Fields and the New York City Council.
In addition to the NSF funding, ongoing support from member institutions is required to sustain the Center. At the time the NSF proposal was submitted, eight universities and three research organizations had already committed to support the creation of the NYCRDC at Baruch. Since then, four others joined in support, including Cornell University. The addition of Cornell was significant, as it included the establishment of a second site in Ithaca. NYCRDC Cornell opened in September 2004.
Any researcher can submit a proposal to the Census Bureau for a project at the NYCRDC. However, researchers from member institutions, such as Baruch, do not have to pay the substantial non-member fee to use the lab. Moreover, member researchers will have priority if the RDC reaches capacity.
Recent technological enhancements to the RDC network increase the prospects for collaboration across RDCs and give researchers at NYCRDC Baruch the ability to work jointly on projects with co-authors located around the United States.
Media contact: Zane Berzins, News & Public Information Director at Baruch College, (646) 660-6113, firstname.lastname@example.org