The expansion of available data for research has transformed empirical labor economics over the past generation. This paper briefly highlights some of the changes and describes a few examples of papers that illustrate the advances. It also documents the changing ways data have been used in the Journal of Labor Economics over the past 30 years, including a trend toward a higher fraction of papers using any data and, among those papers using any data, a higher fraction using nonpublic data, a higher fraction using international data, and more frequent use of multiple data sources. Finally, this paper describes work that came out of the recent Princeton Data Improvement Initiative—a program that considers and furthers improved data collection.
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“Data Improvement and Labor Economics,” Journal of Labor Economics, 31(2), Part 2, April 2013, S1-S16