What Is the Center for Research in Security Prices (CRSP)?

The Center for Research in Security Prices (CRSP) is a vendor of historical time series data on securities. Part of the University of Chicago's Booth School of Business, the CRSP is a nonprofit organization that is used by academic, commercial, and government agencies to access information such as price, dividends, and rates of returns on stocks.

In its mission statement, the CRSP says its goal is to provide "enriched and accessible data products and solutions which provide a basis for scholarly achievement, original innovative research, and sound investment decisions."

Key Takeaways

  • The Center for Research in Security Prices (CRSP), part of the Booth School of Business, is a vendor of historical time series data on securities.
  • Academic, commercial, and government agencies use the nonprofit center to access information such as price, dividends, and rates of returns on stocks.
  • Data is provided to subscribers and assists them in their financial analysis, economic forecasting, and stock market research.

Understanding the Center for Research in Security Prices (CRSP)

Located in the Chicago financial district, the CRSP provides historical data on securities that have primary listings on the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE), NasdaqAmerican Stock Exchange (AMEX), and Archipelago Exchange (ARCA).

Data is provided to subscribers and assists them in their financial analysis, economic forecasting, and stock market research. Information can be found on stocks, indices, treasuries, mutual funds, and real estate.

On its website, the CRSP says close to 500 academic institutions in 35 countries draw on the center's data for research and teaching. Other notable subscribers to its data sets include the Federal Reserve Bank, regulators in the finance sector, and institutional investors.

History of the Center for Research in Security Prices (CRSP)

The CRSP was founded in 1960. Professors at the University of Chicago were eager to provide accurate and comprehensive data to make it possible to analyze investment performance relative to other types of investments and understand the behavior of the stock market better. Merrill Lynch was happy to assist, offering a $300,000 grant to get this idea off the ground.

The Center for Research in Security Prices (CRSP) was the first to provide investors with a comprehensive stock market database.

The CRSP claims on its website that it took 3½ years of "painstaking research and programming" to build its initial database. All of that hard work paid off as its results were immediately published in influential newspapers: The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, The New York Times, and the Chicago Tribune.

Upon its completion in 1964, the stock market database was estimated to contain between two and three million pieces of information.

Initially, the center's database consisted of monthly share prices of common stock trading on the NYSE, dating back to 1926. Over time, the database grew in size, introducing other exchanges and securities, as well as daily updates.

Special Considerations

The CRSP took another big step in 2012, adding investable indexes to its offering. Vanguard pounced quickly, announcing that it would adopt 16 of them as benchmarks for some of its exchange-traded funds (ETFs).

As of Dec. 2017, more than $1 trillion in assets were linked to the CRSP indexes. The indexes are grouped under four categories: Market cap, growth, value, and sector.