The University of Pennsylvania and three other regional research institutions that have joined together to create the Philadelphia Federal Statistical Research Data Center (PFSRDC) to make previously restricted Census Data easily accessible to researchers.

Statistical Research Data Centers are secure-environment data labs that provide researchers close-by access to highly-restricted microdata from the Census Bureau, the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, the National Center for Health Statistics, and the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

The new Philadelphia  Federal Statistical Research Data Center will be located in the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia at 6th and Arch Streets.

‘Things never before possible’
“It’s a massive amount of data on individuals and business, which is all linkable across datasets. That means (researchers) can do things that were never possible before,” Penn Associate Professor of Economics Iourii Manovskii told Penn News. Manovskii, PhD, leads the Penn PFSRDC program.

The consortium creating the new local research center is composed of Penn, Drexel University, Pennsylvania State University and the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia. The new PFSRDC facility will be located inside the Federal Reserve Bank at 6th and Arch Streets. Due to open in April, it will join the 24 other FSRDC centers currently in operation across the country. 

Dan Polsky, Executive Director of the Leonard Davis Institute of Health Economics (LDI), explained LDI’s commitment to bringing this resource to Penn and the reason for LDI’s participation in the consortium as a Penn partner

Local geographic indicators
“Only through the RDC can one access regional and local geographic indicators for the staple datasets of our field such as the National Health Interview Survey (NHIS), the Medical Expenditure Panel Survey (MEPS), the National Ambulatory Medical Care Survey (NAMCS) and the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES),” he said.  “The most exciting opportunities, however, are those that will be imagined by our senior fellows through the endless opportunities for unique linkages with death records, Medicare claims, and other data available throughout the entire RDC inventory.”

The Census Bureau explains that researchers who use FSRDC facilities “have access to computing capacity to handle large datasets and complex calculations. Standard statistical, econometric, and programming software, including R, Stata, SAS®, MATLAB and Gauss are available in a Linux environment.  Additional software is available to meet special researcher needs.  RDC researchers can collaborate with other RDC researchers across the U.S. through the secure RDC computing environment.”

The new Penn PFSRDC website  provides a detailed list of the sorts of demographic, economic, health, and linked employer-household data that will be available to researchers. Also listed are five PFSRDC economics proposals currently in progress, along with the names of the various investigators.