Free Data About Global Social Change

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World of Statistics   

Table of Contents
US Government data
Multi topic or multi regional data
Demographic data
Economic data
Political data
Social data
Crime data
Well being and progress data
Miscellaneous data
Links to other sites with data
Info about Open Data

One of the major selling points of ... The Hitchhiker's Guide the the Galaxy .. is its compendious and occasionally accurate glossary.  The statistics relating to the geo-social nature of the Universe, for instance, are deftly set out between pages nine hundred and thirty-eight thousand three hundred and twenty-four and nine hundred and thirty-eight thousand three hundred and twenty-six.
    The Restaurant at the end of the Universe, Douglas Adams, Harmony Books. Quoted by permission.

Data from the US Government
enerally data from the US Government are free for anyone to use without the need for permission.

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We compiled various data sets from US government data   including data from the US Census International Database,  the World Factbook and from the USDA ERS data.  Almost all of the data from the US government are “not subject to copyright in the United States and there are no copyright restrictions on reproduction, derivative works, distribution, performance, or display of the work” when the data are used in the US.  ( ). I've been told by people in the Census Bureau that they have not yet asserted copyright claims when the data has been used outside the US.

World Factbook data are public domain. Their faq page says "The World Factbook is in the public domain and may be used freely by anyone at anytime without seeking permission."  

World Factbook   Data include population, GDP, area, coastline, revenues, expenditure, inequality index, ethnic distributions, phone lines, % land cultivated, % of economy in industry, birthrate, deathrate, infant mortality rate, and more.
Previous editions are here:   

USDA's ERS data sets    has this
- The International Macroeconomic Data Set   provides data from 1969 through 2030 for real (adjusted for inflation) gross domestic product (GDP), population, real exchange rates, and other variables for the 190 countries and 34 regions that are most important for U.S. agricultural trade.

UC Census Bureau   has data about population, over time and current, in the  International Data Base (IDB)    from the US Census Bureau,  "The International Data Base (IDB) is a computerized data bank containing statistical tables of demographic, and socio-economic data for 227 countries and areas of the world." 

Energy Information Administration   production and consumption of sources of energy, and totals, all or most countries of the world, 1980 to current. As of 4/19/2016, this website says data on the beta page are not final and may have errors, but I can't seem to find international data on a non beta page.

The US Department of State Office of Allowances   has several interesting sets of data.
Foreign Per Diem Rates   which gives info about Maximum Travel Per Diem Allowances for Foreign Areas (lodging and meals) for many cities in the world. This could be kind of comparative cost of living.
Quarterly Report Indexes    lists living costs abroad, another comparative cost of living index. This is also by city, but generally only one city per country is listed. The January tables list most of the countries.
Human rights and religious freedom   Descriptions of rights and freedom. I translated the human rights into ratings, and included it in data-useful on the datasets page.

The Department of State also has this: International Narcotics Control Strategy Report   have comparative tables that "identifies the broad range of actions that jurisdictions have, or have not, taken to combat money laundering." For example the 2007 table is in Volume II, in the "Major Money Laundering Countries" section,    listing whether countries have, for example, Criminalized Drug Money Laundering, Records Large Transactions, Maintain Records Over Time of large transactions, Reports Suspicious Transactions, has System for Identifying and Forfeiting Assets, and other steps.

National Center for Educational Statistics, international activities program     has .tables and data.

NSF also has some international data   on various topics

Foreign trade statistics   has data of countries trade with the US. For most data, you have to select individual countries. Also see  Advanced Technology Products listed for all countries here    This can be downoaded as a csv file.

Multi-topic or Multi-regional data sites
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These sites list political, economic, demographic data and other types.

United Nations data

UN general data page   data on everything, including data from most of the data sources mentioned below. 

Keep this in mind: The copyright page of    says "All data and metadata provided on UNdata’s website are available free of charge and may be copied freely, duplicated and further distributed provided that UNdata is cited as the reference." 

Unfortunately, most other UN sites say this "The United Nations grants permission to Users to visit the Site and to download and copy the information, documents and materials from the Site for the User’s personal, non-commercial use, without any right to resell or redistribute them or to compile or create derivative works therefrom..." I use for all data.

UN Social and Economic Commissions   lists various regional commissions and their data pages.

UN Population Programme, Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific, statistics division   has basic demographic data for 57 Asia and Pacific countries, such as population, growth rate, infant mortality, urban population, gdp per capita. Data completeness varies considerably by country. Data are also presented by individual country (i.e., 57 individual data files)

Millenium Development Goals Indicators   can get a variety of data here

Data at Unicef   data on women, infant, child indicators of health.

Statistical yearbook   most recent and access to previous yearbooks.


World Bank has a data page   with lots of data. Their terms of use for data sets page   says "You may extract, download, and make copies of the information contained in the Datasets, and you may share that information with third parties." and then lists various conditions.  There are also some specifications on how you attribute the data sets.

One data set is the Ease of Doing Business   "objective measures of business regulations for local firms in 185 economies and selected cities at the subnational level"

OECD's Society at a glance   various data for OECD countries.

Asian Development Bank statistics page   Has data on a number of topics, such as population, poverty, environment.  See for example the key indicators page, which has population, health, education, employment, over time.

African Development Bank   has a statistics page. Click on "knowledge" and then statistics. Data on human development indicators, macroeconomic indicators and other economic indicators. There are tables showing cross country comparisons and individual country tables.

The African Development Bank now also has the Open Data For Africa    Can get data and make charts for a wide variety of variables. This is open data: the terms and conditions say "Users are free to copy, distribute, disseminate or include the data in other products for commercial and/or noncommercial purposes at no cost." (but users should list the source when using the data)

The Statistical, Economic and Social Research and Training Centre for Islamic Countries (SESRTCIC), at    provides a variety of data about its member states. These fifty-seven states include Afghanistan, Bahrain, Chad, Egypt, Iran, Kyrgyzstan, Morocco, Qatar, Syria, Turkey and Uzbekistan, amongst others.

The Economic Commission for Latin America   has statistical yearbooks with data on economics, social welfare, social conditions.  For English speakers, from the home page, click on English and then on Publications and then Statistical Yearbook.

Eurostat   has all sorts of stuff.

FAO stat   has data on agriculture, food and nutrition, population, plants, animals, etc  
Also see the State of food insecurity in the world   which has tables in pdf format.
FAO copyright page   says "Except where otherwise indicated, content may be copied, printed and downloaded for private study, research and teaching purposes, or for use in non-commercial products or services, provided that appropriate acknowledgement of FAO as the source and copyright holder is given and that FAO's endorsement of users' views, products or services is not stated or implied in any way."

Sustainable Society Foundation presents the Sustainable Society Index, SSI, every two years. The SSI includes Human, Environmental and Economic Wellbeing:   The data are here   The data set lists indicators from a variety of areas like pollution, education, employment etc., from 151 countries. There are also interactive maps.

Prosperity index   kind of a general overall index, including economic and other quality of life factors.

The Open Data Hub of the European Union   The European Commission Data Portal provides access to open public data from the European Commission. It also provides access to data of other Union institutions, bodies, offices and agencies at their request.

World Statistics   from Jean-Michel Durr. "World Statistics is a new portal that gives free and easy access to data provided by International Organizations, such as the World Bank, the United Nations and Eurostat"

 Indices of Social Development (ISD)   "brings together 200 indicators, synthesising them into a usable set of measures to track how different societies perform along six dimensions of social development: civic activism, inclusion of minorities," etc. Data from 1990 to 2010. Supported by World Bank, site hosted by International Institute of Social Studies in The Hague

Focus Economics   has data for 76 countries, 20+ indicators. Data for the past 5 year period can be accessed for free on their indicator and country pages

Demographic data
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The sites listed here are mainly demography sites, but have other data as well.


UN data, world population prospects  

Population Reference Bureau    Click on the World Population Data Sheet, or the data finder page   for some basic demographic data on world countries.  

WHO Global Health Observatory (GHO) data  
Verified up to here, 4/20/2016


Economic data
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The sites listed here are sites mainly about economic data, but have other data as well.


Penn World Tables   "The Penn World Table displays a set of national accounts economic time series covering many countries. Its expenditure entries are denominated in a common set of prices in a common currency so that real quantity comparisons can be made, both between countries and over time. It also provides information about relative  prices within and between countries, as well as demographic data and capital stock estimates."  The Penn World Tables currently comprise data for 150 countries and 30 subjects, including population, real GDP, consumption share of GDP, investment share of GDP, real GDP per adult, a Standard of Living Index (Consumption plus government consumption minus military expenditure, % of GDP).   The data can be downloaded at the site above, and there are papers available.  

Groningen Growth and Development Centre   "The Groningen Growth and Development Centre is a research group of economists and economic historians at the Economics Department of the University of Groningen. The group carries out research on comparative analysis of levels of economic performance and differences in growth rates in the world economy."  They have a number of data bases available for free including these: Total Economy Database with timeseries for GDP in constant 1990 and 1999 prices, Employment, Population and Working Hours for at most 75 countries. Series for GDP per Capita, GDP per person employed and GDP per hour worked are also available.Series run from 1950-2002 for OECD countries and from 1950-2000 for other countries. 60-industry database: series on value added in current and constant prices, employment and value added per person engaged for at most 60-industries covering the economy for 16 countries. Series run from 1990 onwards. 10-sector database: consists of series on real GDP in national currencies, employment and, in some cases, annual working hours by broad sector of the economy for about 20 countries across North America, Europe, Asia and Latin America from 1950 onwards. ICOP industry Database: provides estimates of comparative productivity levels by industry, which are compiled within the framework of the International Comparisons of Output and Productivity project. We now provide annual series from 1950-2000 for manufacturing. The ICOP Database presently covers approximately 30 countries. They also publish working papers.

The world economy statistics  At present, (January 2015), this is GDP per capita from all countries from 1950 to 2010, and from many countries from as early as 1800, and even some "countries" from 1500
The original site was here  This book is from Angus Maddison, at the OEDC.  Very interesting data, including very long term data.  For example, Table 1-3 Level and Rate of Growth of GDP: World and Major Regions, 0-1998 A.D., and Figure 1-4 Comparative Levels of GDP Per capita: China and West Europe, 400-1998 A.D    These are samples from the book.

ECONOMIC FREEDOM OF THE WORLD Annual Report   by the Fraser Institute.     The reports can be found on the Research and News page, in Economic Freedom.   The summary index is based on 23 components designed to identify the consistency of institutional arrangements and policies with economic freedom in seven major areas, including size of govt, structure of markets, freedom to trade with foreigners, and other...   See the freetheworld reports page   that also lists the current report, and earlier reports, and research generated from the economic freedom of the world. 
  The data are also here 

INTERSTATE STATISTICAL COMMITTEE OF THE COMMONWEALTH OF INDEPENDENT STATES.   see the Main Macroeconomic Indicators page   The pages for individual countries have annual data from 1995 to 2010 on indicators such as GDP, CPI, Capital Investments, and so on.

INDEX OF ECONOMIC FREEDOM   measures the level of freedom and prospects for growth in our global economy. The Index is a practical reference guide to the economies of 161 countries.  This site links to the book. You can see the rankings of the countries, including rankings from 1995 through current.  Can also find it here   Includes data in both urls.

McKEEVER INSTITUTE OF ECONOMIC POLICY ANALYSIS   includes ratings of economic policies of about 27 countries.  Specifically, the ratings look at whether the policies facilitates or obstruct wealth creation.

ILO labor statistics data   includes "Yearly statistics of Employment, Unemployment, Hours of Work, Wages, Labour Cost, Consumer Price Indices, Occupational Injuries, Strikes and Lockouts"  1969 to current. Also, "Monthly statistics of Employment, Unemployment, Hours of Work, Wages, Consumer Price Indices. 1976 to current.  Completeness of data for yearly and monthly varies by country, for example, some countries only have data for 1990 to present, some earlier.


World bank   (very long url) has a table showing income distribution. The table is labeled WDI 2007 poverty.  The years of the data vary from 1993 to 2005. 

Luxembourg Income Study site    especially see the LIS key figures, "Summary measures for all datasets in the LIS archive are reported."   such as income inequality, relative poverty rates, poverty rates for children.  These tables are free.  The actual data is free to academic researchers in member countries, and to students world wide.

Global Competitiveness Report  ranking countries. "The Global Competitiveness Report is a contribution to enhancing our understanding of the key factors which determine economic growth, and explain why some countries are so much more successful than others in raising income levels and opportunities for their respective populations, and in joining the upper ranks of international competitiveness. Unfortunately, no central page for these reports, so need to search for other years." 

Inequality Project   has a data page. UTIP is a small research group concerned with measuring and explaining movements of inequality in wages and earnings and patterns of industrial change around the world." 

UNCTAD World Investment Report   includes data sets such as Inward FDI Stock as a Percentage of Gross Domestic Product, and many others.

World  Income Inequality Database   "The UNU-WIDER World Income Inequality Database (WIID) collects and stores information on income inequality for developed, developing, and transition countries."  From the United Nations University.  The last update is from 2014.
   I'm not entirely sure of the relationship, but some other databases are here   and    

International Development Statistics (IDS) online databases on aid and other resource flows    data on donor aid.

World Top Income Database   as of March 2012, "top income share time series over the long-run for more than twenty countries to date."   

PovCalNet  "PovcalNet is an interactive computational tool that allows you to replicate the calculations made by the World Bank's researchers in estimating the extent of absolute poverty in the world, including the $1 a day poverty measures, as published in the background papers by Chen and Ravallion and in the 2007 World Development Indicators."


Political data
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Some research indicates that change is related to governments. Specifically, successful change requires the presence of stable and flexible political systems.  I'm not sure there is data on this exact topic, so these sites have data that might be indicators of state stability or flexibility.  A number of these sites focus on political or economic freedom.  

Bertelsmann Transformation Index   another political index of some sort

The Comparative Study of Electoral Systems (CSES)   "collaborative program of cross-national research among election studies conducted in over fifty consolidated and emerging democracies. The goals of this unique program of research are threefold: illuminate how electoral institutions constrain the beliefs and behaviors of citizens to condition the nature and quality of democratic choice as expressed through popular elections; understand the nature of political and social cleavages and alignments; and shed light on how citizens, living under diverse political arrangements, evaluate democratic institutions and processes."  They can look at "satisfaction with the performance of democracy: how do citizens respond to varying institutional forms of democracy?"

Freedom house   especially see their country ratings page, which is "an annual assessment of state state of freedom by assigning each country and territory the status of "Free," "Partly Free," or "Not Free" by averaging their political rights and civil liberties ratings.   This data is available as html, excel and pdf, for 1972/73 to the current year. 

Global Integrity Index   assesses the existence, effectiveness, and citizen access to key national-level anti-corruption mechanisms across a diverse range of countries.

The Polyarchy Scale   This is a scale "measuring thresholds of polyarchy in every independent state in the world as of mid-1985."  Also has updated data for 2000.  Developed by Michael Coppedge.  The scale ranges from "Meaningful fair elections are held, there is full freedom for political organization and expression, and there is no preferential presentation of official views in the media." to "No meaningful elections are held, all organizations are banned or controlled by the government or official party, all public dissent is suppressed, and there is no public alternative to official information."

The Center for Systemic Peace    has a bunch of data sets including the Polity IV (governance), armed conflict, terrorists, and more.  Look at other data on the Center for International Development and Conflict Management (CIDCM) at  

State failure 
  has data (and research) about Internal Wars and Failures of Governance, 1955-most recent data. Although, to tell the truth, I don't exactly see where to get the data.

Sachs and Warner   this data set includes some economic data such as per capita gdp growth, purchasing power, but also the degree to which an economy is rated as 'open' and 'institutional quality index' which is political stability, corruption, a few other criteria.  The Sachs and Warner data set is also available at

SIPRI database on military expenditure   especially read the sources and methods carefully.

Transparency International corruption perception index   See "What we do" then Publications. These are also available at Internet Center for Corruption Research    The TI site also has a global corruption barometer and a bribe payers survey.

World Audit   lists data on democracy, political rights, civil liberties, corruption.  The civil liberties and political rights are Freedom House data (described above).

World bank governance indicators   data on corruption and other governance indicators.   This data set is also listed at the World Bank Research Data Sets described above.  The variables in this data set are: Voice and Accountability, Political Stability and Absence of Violence, Government Effectiveness, Regulatory Quality, Rule of Law, and Control of Corruption.

Women in Parliments   from the InterParlimentary Union.  Data on number and percent of women in parliments, by region and by country.  Currently has 2004 data is on this site.

Vision of Humanity   from the  Institute for Economics and Peace (IEP), a non profit think tank.  . The Vision of Humanity has a couple of indexes, including the Global Peace Index, Terrorism Index, and peace indexes for a couple of countries.

Global Terrorism Database   an open-source database including information on terrorist events around the world since 1970

Department of Peace and Conflict Research   houses a whole bunch of data at  their datasets page  such as the Data on Armed Conflict,  and a lot of other conflict type data.

Carleton Indicators for Foreign Policy   has indicators for governance and fragile states

Conflict and Security Indices: A Summary of Open-Source Data   this 2008 paper by Pavlovic, Nada J. ; Blackler, Kristen ; Mandel, David R. reviews a bunch of measures of conflict and security indicators.

Correlates of War    includes data on war, but also religion and some other stuff 

Country Indicators for Foreign Policy (CIFP)   see the country ranking tables, and the indicator descriptions for explanations. Many variables are ranked from 1996 to 2000, for many countries. Variables include armed conflict, gov stability, militarization, demographics, and others.

The Peace Research Institute Oslo (PRIO)   have a number of data sets on various topics. Of particular interest is that they offer data used in publications, that people can download and duplicate the published research.  PRIO also has research available.

Social data
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Unesco statistics about education  Indicators and data bases of education.    click "literacy" then "statistical tables". Requires Java.

   This is "an ongoing register of scientific research on subjective appreciation of life. It brings together findings that are scattered throughout many studies and provides a basis for meta-analytical studies."  The data are available as an spss file from the author.  Also, click on Finding Reports and then Rank reports of Happiness in Nations. This leads to a table showing a list of countries and their average happiness. You can also go to Happiness in Nations, then Search Findings by Item Type and some of the questions have data for a large number of countries.

Barro-Lee education data set  and    and     

UN Refugee agency    a ton of international refugee data, including current and some trend statistics.  Click on refugee statistics, then there are a number of reports available.  The annual reports are in pdf.

Ethnic, linguistic and religious fractionalization    fractionalization data available here, as well as a paper, by Romain Wacziarg and others.  Fractionalization is presented for three factors: ethnic, linguistic and region.  Data for each country varies from 1983 (e.g. Angola) to 1998 (e.g., Austria), but seems only for one year for each country.  Overall, there is high correlation between ethnicity and language (0.63) but low correlation between language and religion (0.24) and between religion and ethnicity (0.14).  That is, ethnicity and language seem tied together, but religion seems independent.

Ethnolinguistic Fractionalization (ELF) Indices for 1961 and 1985   Dr. Roeder writes that "A common interpretation of the index is that it is the probability that two individuals chosen at random from the population (country) will be from different ethnic groups."  There is high correlation between Roeder's ELF and Wacziarg et al's ethnic (0.79) and language (0.75) fractionalization, but low between ELF and religious (0.33) fractionalization.

Social Fractionalization, Political Instability, and the Size of Government   includes a data set showing  fractionalization of a country's population (along ethnolinguistic and religious dimensions) . The ratings are listed here  

Reporters Without Borders    has worldwide press freedom index 2002 to current.

Quality of Life   Quality of life data for 2005, includes data. The data are also in this file   available on my data sets page.

Travel and Tourism Competitiveness Index, 2015   from World Economic Forum

Social Statistics   A kind of social survey for anyone.  They post some questions (and you can suggest some), people answer, then you can either get some statistics on line or download the data set.

The Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life   has a lot of data on religion. Their data are free to use for research, academic, but with conditions. One example of a data set is the Global Religious Landscape   numbers and percent of national populations in major religious groups

The Fraser Institute has this project "Towards a Worldwide Index of Human Freedom"    from January 2013, which measures economic and also personal freedom, including religion. A table showing data is in chapter 3.

Crime data
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The UN Office on Drugs and Crime   has a section on data and analysis, including a crime statistics database .

UN Survey on crime   data are available from surveys.  A summary is available for total crimes, "total recorded crimes per 100,000 population" on this page.  Also the latest report is the 9th (as of April 2008)

International Centre for Prison Studies   has world prison briefs where you can get data on prison totals, rates, and other related data.

The  European Sourcebook of Crime and Criminal Justice Statistics   Crime and criminal justice data. This is a wordpress site of The University of Lausanne.

National and international well being and progress
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OECD's Measuring the Progress of Societies     OECD project.

Measuring national well-being    

Gross National Happiness    Centre for Bhutan  Studies

Canadian Index of Wellbeing  

Social Progress Index  "The Social Progress Index is an aggregate index of social and environmental indicators that capture three dimensions of social progress: Basic Human Needs, Foundations of Wellbeing, and Opportunity. "

World Happiness Report   can download data. The website doesn't say who organized/produced this, except at the bottom of a couple of pages it says "The Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN) was commissioned by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon in 2012 to mobilize scientific and technical expertise from academia, civil society, and the private sector to support practical problem solving for sustainable development at local, national, and global scales." However, Columbia's Earth Institute seems to be involved:  

How's Life? 2015, Measuring Well-being    How’s Life? describes the essential ingredients that shape people’s well-being in OECD and partner countries.

National Accounts of Well-being   

Misc data
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Democide   murder by governments.

Axel Dreher has an index of globalization, and another on corruption  

 The CSGR Globalisation Index   "measures the economic, social and political dimensions of globalisation for countries on an annual basis over the period 1982 to 2004, and combines these into an overall globalisation index, or score."

Internet World Stats,   An International website featuring worldwide up to date Internet Usage Statistics and Population Data for over 233 countries and world regions. Their world table   shows world data, and they have more detailed data by region.

International Telecommunications Union has a statistics page   

The Lagatum prosperity index   another indicator of wealth and welbeing

Cline Center for Democracy    has a number of data sets that are publicly available.
    Societal Infrastructure and Development (SID) Datasets  - religious composition, educational attainment, etc.
    The Social Political and Economic Event Database Project Datasets  - (civil unrest, property rights, electoral processes, etc.

Global Innovation Index    something about the national economy that allows for innovative activities.

Sites that list other data sites
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BLS link to other official data sites

UN links to other official data sites

Official Statistics of the world    

Key Starting Points for Statistics    Data on all sorts of topics. Some are free but many are not. But this lists so many varies sources its worth looking at.

Development Data    Data on topics related to development.

Guide to freely available international data resources    from ESDS international

The Macro Data Guide   has some comments about the data quality

This Open Directory page   also lists various regional organizations, many of which have data.

Data Portal Tools

CKAN   an open-source data portal platform. The website says "CKAN is a powerful data management system that makes data accessible – by providing tools to streamline publishing, sharing, finding and using data. CKAN is aimed at data publishers (national and regional governments, companies and organizations) wanting to make their data open and available."

Open Data Catalogs   from the Open Knowledge Foundation. "The open data census assesses the state of open data around the world. This site hosts the census and presents the results along with other key facts about the state of open data and especially open government data around the world."

Data repositories

Data Hub   The site says "Give your data a home"

Open Data info
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European Union's Open data: An engine for innovation, growth and transparent governance  

Whitehouse has a Making Open and Machine Readable the New Default for Government Information  


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Asian Pacific Economic Cooperation     has tables of basic data

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