Economic and Social Data Service

The Economic and Social Data Service describes the service it offers as follows:

"The Economic and Social Data Service (ESDS) is a social science data service funded by the ESRC and JISC which disseminates and supports socio‐economic data to the UK academic community". The service is run collaboratively by Mimas at the University of Manchester and the Data Archive at Essex.

Economists are one of the largest groups of users of the service. In particular, economists make extensive use of the global time series databanks produced by intergovernmental organisations such as the IMF, OECD, International Energy Agency and World Bank which are freely available to UK academic and students through the service ( .

For example, the IMF produces five major databanks which collectively provide a global picture of economic development and international trade over the last 50 years:

  • International Financial Statistics The primary statistical publication of the Fund and the standard source for all aspects of international and domestic finance. Also contains monthly data on commodity prices. Updated every month and has been since 1948. Current edition (Feb 2012) contain data running up to Dec 2011.
  • Government Finance Statistics Annual data on country revenue income by source (tax, lending, bonds, etc), and expenditure by sector (defence, education, health, etc) for all levels of government (national, state, local).
  • Balance of Payments Statistics Quarterly data on the standard balance of payments components and international investment positions.
  • Direction of Trade Monthly data on volume of trade between country‐country pairs worldwide
  • World Economic Outlook The IMF’s forecasts for main economic and financial indicators by country over the next 5 years.

The OECD’s Main Economic Indicators and International Direct Investment Statistics are also widely used by economists. The OECD data are considered to be accurate and reliable and provide an authoritative means to compare economic indicators across the OECD countries.

Also of interest to economists are the large scale government surveys produced by the UK Office for National Statistics,

In addition to providing access to the data, ESDS supports the use of the data in teaching and research through accompanying user guides, software guides, case studies, helpdesks and a training programme.

We are also keen to encourage the use of real data in economics teaching. In the Teaching tools area of the ESDS website, you will find sample lesson plans and interviews with Nick Weaver from Manchester and Paul Turner from Loughborough talking about how they use real world data in their teaching.

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