Celebrating 30 Years: Three Decades of IPUMS Data

By Diana L. Magnuson; Curator and Historian, ISRDI

"Celebrating 30 years: three decades of IPUMS data" display case with promotional materials, swag items, and historical IPUMS items
“Celebrating 30 years: three decades of IPUMS data” display case at ISRDI Headquarters

“Celebrating 30 Years: Three Decades of IPUMS Data,” the current exhibit at ISRDI Headquarters, highlights thirty years of data innovation at the University of Minnesota. In the late 1980s, the Social History Research Laboratory at the University of Minnesota’s History Department proposed “the creation of a single integrated microdata series composed of public use samples for every year … with the exception of the 1890 census, which was destroyed by fire.” The primary aim was to make the U.S. census microdata “as compatible over time as possible while losing little, if any, of the detail in the original datasets.” (Integrated Public Use Microdata Series: A Prospectus).

Steven Ruggles remembers the moment he went into the History Department lounge on the sixth floor of the Social Science Tower and said, “IPUMS! Integrated Public Use Microdata Series! Isn’t that a great idea?” The response from the graduate research assistants was not enthusiastic. “What a terrible name! You can’t call it that!” According to Ruggles, “It was universal; everyone thought it was just a horrible name … It wasn’t a bad idea to propose, just a terrible thing to call it.” After a brief quandary over pronunciation (Ī-pŭms or Ĭ-pŭms), the name has stuck and is now synonymous with social research, data innovation, and free access. And for the record, we don’t care how you pronounce it, just as long as you cite it!

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Digitizing and Exploring Qatar’s Population Censuses

By Shine Min Thant

Qatar, a small yet influential state in the Middle East, is a very interesting case study for demographic research because of its rapid development over the past thirty years. Qatar occupies a peninsula only slightly larger than the U.S. state of Rhode Island that juts out into the Persian Gulf from its border with Saudi Arabia. The country has experienced relatively rapid economic growth since the late 20th century, mainly due to its vast reserves of natural gas and oil. This newfound wealth allowed Qatar to invest heavily in its healthcare, infrastructure, and education – therefore making the country an ideal case study for social change and development. Additionally, a recent surge in Qatar’s immigrant population (which constitutes over 78 percent of the population) also makes it an ideal country to study social mobility and social change.

As part of the ISRDI Diversity Fellowship Program, I worked with Dr. Tracy Kugler, Professor Steven Manson, Professor Evan Roberts, and undergraduate student Rawan AlGahtani on a project to examine Qatar’s change using census data from 1984, 1997, and 2004. Summary tables from all three censuses were previously only available as printed documents. As a first step, we needed to transform the data from a hard-to-get printed format to widely accessible IPUMS IHGIS format. This process included multiple steps from conducting optical character recognition (OCR) to conducting data quality checks using R scripts (Figure 1).

Figure 1: IPUMS IHGIS Workflow

A workflow schematic that highlights the process of preparing summary tables and source shapefiles into consistent and machine-readable formats via IPUMS IHGIS

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New Data Release from IPUMS International – From Mexico to MOSAIC

By Lara Cleveland and Jane Lee

IPUMS International has released new data! Eighteen new census samples have been added to the collection, including data from Côte d’Ivoire, which is new to IPUMS International. Newly released census samples include Cambodia (2019), Côte d’Ivoire (1988, 1998), Denmark (1845, 1880, 1885), Laos (1995, 2015), Mexico (2020), Peru (2017), Puerto Rico (2015, 2020), Switzerland (2011), United Kingdom (1961, 1971), United States (2015, 2020) and Vietnam (2019). As always, we gratefully acknowledge the national statistical offices of all the countries partnering with IPUMS International to make data available for research.

New geography variables are also now available with harmonized migration variables at the second-administrative level; the codes for the newly released migration variables match existing IPUMS International geography codes and labels. As an example, the geographic units in the migration variable for Mexico at the municipo level (place of residence 5 years ago, MIG2_5_MX) are reconciled to the boundaries for place of current residence (GEO2_MX).

This is a map showing the 2020 census 5-year migration rates for GEO1 in Mexico, and GEO2 in Nuevo Leon state
2020 census 5-year migration rates for GEO1 in Mexico, and GEO2 in Nuevo Leon state. Map by Quinn Heimann

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