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Economics and the World Wide Web:
Economics Information, Teaching Resources, Organizations, and Women's Issues
(from CSWEP Newsletter, May, 1997)

Kim Sosin ksosin at mail.unomaha.edu .
Professor and Chair, Department of Economics
University of Nebraska at Omaha

Introduction:

Economists have more opportunities to take advantage of the Internet than most academic professions because they use many public data sources. The World Wide Web has a treasure house of both historical and new data that is easy to find and download. In addition, the use of the Internet for providing working papers and pre-prints has become important in economics, following the lead of some of the science professions. The web is also used productively in the economics classroom in the form of course homepages and student web projects. At the same time, the web has plenty of "junk" sites and sites with biased points of view. How can some of the useful sites be located without sorting through the undesirable ones? Below, I discuss a few general web sources of economic information and on-line working papers, sources of economics data, sources of teaching information, web pages of organizations and journals, and a few web sources for women's issues.

Web Sources for General Economic Information and Interest:

Economists using the web are fortunate to have two of the most thorough and up-to-date web meta-resources available. Bill Goffe's "Resources for Economists on the Internet" is an on-line web publication that is thoroughly indexed to all types of economic information available on the web, can be searched by keywords, and is hotlinked to the final web sites. Likewise, George Greenwade has a gopher site with a vast number of links to economic information and data. Bob Park's project to provide electronic pre-prints of economics articles on the web is also an important source for students or instructors working on research projects.

Resources for Economists on the Internet.

Bill Goffe's current hypertext guide has links to all known economic information on the Internet. To use this guide, click the information you want or put a keyword into the search engine provided with the document. When the search engine provides a list of links, the first click takes you to a section of the Goffe document that describes this site. Within or following this description, there is a link to the site itself. Thus you can go to any economics site location from these pages. Goffe also describes the economics listserv discussion groups on the Internet (PolEcon, Femecon, Tch-econ, Econ-ed, etc.), along with the addresses needed to join.

  • Directories of Economists on the Web

There are two sites with lists of economists home pages on the web. Kuan-Pin Lin has a searchable page at Lin's economist page and John Irons links to economists home pages from Iron's economists page. On both sites, economists can add their names via a form on the page. A quick check revealed that less than three percent of the approximately 240 names link to women's home pages. The American Economics Association Directory of Members can be searched by name, and another site lists web sites of Departments of Economics .

  • Web sites for Working Papers and Pre-prints

Working papers on the web provide extensive sources of searchable economic papers on all subjects. The working papers or pre-prints provide rapid dissemination of new research and thus provide faculty and students access to some of the newest ideas and analysis. In some of the sciences, papers are routinely published online immediately after acceptance by a journal, followed by the printed version later. The major economics sources for working papers are Bob Parks' Econ-WP: Economics Working Papers Archive , the BibEc Bibliography of Working Papers, and the National Bureau of Economic Research for NBER working papers.

Web Sources for Economics Data

FedWorld Information Network

FedWorld is the U.S. Government online information source, introduced by National Technical Information Service (NTIS). According to its description, "It provides a comprehensive central access point for locating and acquiring government information. The goal of NTIS FedWorld is to provide a one-stop location for the public to locate, order and have delivered to them, U.S. Government information."

Bureau of Labor Statistics LABSTAT

The Bureau of Labor Statistics public database LABSTAT, provides current and historical data for 26 surveys of labor market and related conditions. It is also the source for the CPI press release. LABSTAT uses the BLS forms format so users can easily access the desired data by typing an "order" into the form.

Federal Reserve Data from FRED

The St. Louis Federal Reserve Data Base FRED has lots of data. For a fast start, go directly to the index for FRED data sets, which have links to GDP data, price data, employment data, financial and monetary data, exchange rate and regional data. This directory contains data on money supply, interest rates, flow of funds tables, industrial production and capacity utilization, and other data from the Federal Reserve Board.

U. S. Bureau of the Census Home Page

This server provides a huge amount of information on population, households, economic indicators, sectors in the economy, Statistical Abstracts, and much more.

Entry point to several services, including the Bureau of the Census household and business demographic data and to STAT-USA (which requires a subscription), information on economic, business, and social/environmental program data from over 50 Federal sources), and to the Bureau of Economic Analysis' domestic, international, and regional economic accounts.

Financial Economics Server from U. of TX

This Web site provides up-to-date information on a wide range of financial information.

THOMAS: Library of Congress Legislative Information

The Library of Congress Web site provides the full text of legislation for House and Senate bills searchable by keywords or bill number, the full text of the Congressional Record, daily accounts of proceedings on House and Senate floors, and the text of How Our Laws Are Made by Edward F. Willett, Jr., House Law Revision Counsel. More generally, the Library of Congress Web pages also provide historical collections and descriptions of some of the Library's special collections, and several exhibits. Also very useful is LOCIS, the Library of Congress Information System, which is searchable by keywords.

This Toronto site is a source for Canadian data (census, economics data) and the Penn World Tables (PWT 5.6) international data covering 29 macroeconomic variables for 152 countries covering the years 1950-92.

This site is a guide to economic growth resources--data, literature, working papers, etc.--on the Internet

Hoovers provides a wealth of information covering 10,000 companies. It has free searches and company capsules, stock information on companies, 5000 company websites, etc., many guides and books. Additional information is available through an on-line subscription.

Web Sources for Economics Teaching Information

The purpose of some web sites is to provide information to assist economics teaching and educators. Other sites are useful for teaching because they can be the basis of economics classroom exercises that generate economic exploration by students. A third type of teaching site is the course homepage created by the teacher to support a particular course. These course homepages, which include syllabi, assignments, projects, communication through listservs or chat groups, can also be useful browsing for other economics teachers when preparing a new course. In addition to those below, many other specialty sites are available, for example, covering experimental economics, antitrust economics, economics and the law, etc.

This site has a web page for college teaching and K-12 economics teaching, in addition to a general annotated general economics information page. It also provides an "web teaching idea page," which suggests web projects for all levels of education. The idea page links to an interactive self-quiz example with animated demonstrations reviewing demand, and also suggests several "WebQuests" involving investigations of the deficit, the system of Federal Reserve Banks and similar activities.

Ray Fair, whose macroeconomic model is well-known, has created an ingenious web site that permits simulation of economic outcomes. Students can see how macro-econometric models permit evaluation of outcomes based on different economic assumptions and investigate some of those outcomes themselves. Students can also examine the equations of the model.

Searchable database for researchers in economic education maintained by William Walstad at the National Center for Research in Economic Education at University of Nebraska-Lincoln.

These pages are reviews of the available microcomputer programs that can be used for teaching economics. Most of the software is provided by textbook publishers as ancillary material for college principles of economics textbooks. The software reviewed is limited to programs produced and distributed by textbook publishers and other organizations.

Joe Daniels has created a marvelous interactive site (using Java programming) for teaching microeconomics. Faculty and students can create graphs by placing coordinates, see the associated equations, and other clever activities. The Java code is provided in a rather large download before graphics can be used interactively.

  • A Few Good Examples of Course Homepages

Each of the following economists have interesting homepages for their courses.

Jane Leuthold

Roger A. McCain

Nancy Folbre

Julie Nelson's Gender and Economics

Allan Schmid's Institutional and Behavioral Economics

Mark McBride's Computer Math Software Page.

Robert Dixon's Online Lesson on Walras Law

Ira Saltz' Economic Issues: Pros and Cons

Web Sources for Economics Organizations and Journals

The web creates an excellent opportunity for economics organizations to provide information about purpose, membership, and conferences. Journals are also using the web to share subscription information, submission policies and contents of issues.

  • Selected Economics Organizations

Committee for the Status of Women in the Economics Profession (CSWEP)

Feminist Economics | Editorial Home Page.

American Economics Association

National Association of Economic Educators

  • Economics Journals

A complete meta-website of links to economics journals on the web can be found at . I might mention here the homepage for journal Feminist Economics at and the gopher site for the publication Job Listings for Economists (JOE) at .

Web Sources for Women's Issues

Although women's presence on the web is not large relative to all the material "out there," there are a number of very interesting sites by women devoted to women's issues. Here is a small sample. These do not focus exclusively on economics, but women's economic issues are often a part of the site's offerings.

Their research addresses issues of race, ethnicity, and class and specifically promotes policies that help low-income women achieve self-sufficiency and autonomy.

The Feminist Majority supports action by its extensive membership for the goals of political, economic, and social equality for women.

The mediated listings of the "Best on the 'Net" for women's issues are useful.

Organized around various action items, such as economic equity, this site provides a list actions individuals can take for each issue, explains the actions NOW is taking, and identifies the major points about the issue.

One of the originals. Includes Webgrrls, which supports global networking to help women succeed in technology. Also supports the next two sites.

This site has well-organized set of links to women in many roles, including business and industry, health, feminism, lesbians and bisexuals, and other issues including a compendium of women's personal pages.

Look for the nice collection of links, including long list of women's organizations homepages.

This features many resource topics and organizations, among them Black Women in Sisterhood for Action, Women's Global Leadership, National Committee for Pay Equity, National Women's Political Caucus, Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network, Washington Feminist FAXnet, and Women's International Network.

A mega-index to women's studies from the University of Maryland can be found here.

This site has good collection of links to women's web resources; follow the links that specify Women's Resources through two pages.

Concluding Observations

The amount of economics information on the web is huge, with many sites that are extremely useful for economists. Since a lot of "junk" sites are also on the web, sorting out the worthwhile sites can be a frustrating chore. This article has described many of these worthwhile sites for economists plus a few of the most important sites specializing in women's issues.

If you've had enough of serious web pages by now, consider these:

Jokes about economists #1

Jokes about economists #2.

Enjoy!