IPUMS Announces 2019 Research Award Recipients

IPUMS is excited to announce the winners of its annual IPUMS Research Awards. These awards honor the best-published research and self-nominated graduate student papers from 2019 that used IPUMS data to advance or deepen our understanding of social and demographic processes.

IPUMS, developed by and housed at the University of Minnesota, is the world’s largest individual-level population database, providing harmonized data on people in the U.S. and around the world to researchers at no cost.

There are six award categories, and each is tied to the following IPUMS projects:

  1. IPUMS USA, providing data from the U.S. decennial censuses, the American Community Survey, and IPUMS CPS from 1850 to the present.
  2. IPUMS International, providing harmonized data contributed by more than 100 international statistical office partners; it currently includes information on 500 million people in more than 200 censuses from around the world, from 1960 forward.
  3. IPUMS Health Surveys, which makes available the U.S. National Health Interview Survey (NHIS) and the Medical Expenditure Panel Survey (MEPS).
  4. IPUMS Spatial, covering IPUMS NHGIS and IPUMS Terra. NHGIS includes GIS boundary files from 1790 to the present; Terra provides data on population and the environment from 1960 to the present. This award category first appeared in 2017.
  5. IPUMS Global Health: providing harmonized data from the Demographic and Health Surveys and the Performance Monitoring and Accountability surveys, for low and middle-income countries from the 1980s to the present.
  6. IPUMS Time Use, providing time diary data from the U.S. and around the world from 1965 to the present.

Over 2,900 publications based on IPUMS data appeared in journals, magazines, and newspapers worldwide last year. From these publications and from self-nominated graduate student papers, the award committees selected the 2019 honorees.


IPUMS USA Research Award Winners:

Published Research:
Xi Song, Catherine G. Massey, Karen A. Rolf, Joseph P. Ferrie, Jonathan L. Rothbaum, and Yu Xie. “Long-term decline in intergenerational mobility in the United States since the 1850s.” PNAS, 117(1), 251-258. DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1905094116

Song et al. undertook the ambitious task of linking households and population records from 1850 to 2015 in order to study intergenerational social mobility in the United States. The team relied heavily on IPUMS data. Among their datasets, they included cross-sectional IPUMS data from 1850-2015 and also linked three sets of historical IPUMS samples (1850-1880, 1880-1910, and 1910-1940). By creating father-son dyads, the authors are able to show that intergenerational mobility declined substantially over the past 150 years but more slowly than previous literature suggested.

Student Research:
Sun Kyoung Lee. “Crabgrass Frontier Revisited in New York: Through the Lens of 21st-century Data.” Yale University.

Lee aims to understand the suburbanization process of New York City between 1870 and 1940. The common understanding set for by Jackson (1985) is that rich households moved to the periphery and the poorest stayed in the core, and the households that moved to the periphery were richer than those before them. Lee shows that this was not entirely the case in NYC. People who stayed in the core were richer than the ones who left the city center and the people who moved to the periphery were poorer than those already living in the periphery. Moreover, the people who stayed at the periphery got richer as the metropolis grew. Lee’s analysis relies primarily on the restricted-access IPUMS complete count datasets from 1870 to 1940. Lee links individuals over time using a “machine learning” approach and is a great example of the sort of research that was impossible before the availability of these datasets.

IPUMS International Research Award Winners:

Published Research:
Giulia Ferrari and Ross Macmillan. “Until work do us part: Labour migration and occupational stratification in non-cohabiting marriage.” Population Studies: A Journal of Demography, 73(2), 197-216. DOI: 10.1080/00324728.2019.1583359

Capitalizing on the availability of high-density census samples with broad geographic and temporal coverage from IPUMS International, Ferrari and Macmillan examine labor migration and occupational stratification in non-cohabiting marriage across individuals and households from 70 countries. The work extends our understanding of the relationship between non-cohabiting marriage and occupational stratification by considering the larger social context, particularly as it relates to labor mobility and economic development. Overall, Ferrari and Macmillan find broad cross-national differences in the prevalence of non-cohabiting marriage, a slight increase in risk over time, and a pattern of accumulating risk associated with social disadvantage. The work adds important dimensions to the study of modern families and the social factors that influence diverse family structures.

Student Research:
Tejesh Pradhan. “Socioeconomic Consequences of birth Year Rainfall Shocks: Evidence from Rural Nepal.” The World Bank.

Pradhan uses district-level measures monsoon rainfall in combination with birth year and location information from census microdata of Nepal, available through IPUMS International, to investigate the effects of rainfall shocks during infancy on later life outcomes. The research builds on an assumption that weather shocks affect nutrition, especially for subsistence households. Using a series of robust tests, Pradhan finds that higher birth year rainfall has statistically significant and positive effects on adult educational outcomes for females generally, for both males and females in the highest quintile of rainfall, and effects are slightly exaggerated for individuals from subsistence-level groups. The author suggests that findings provide further support for implementing agricultural insurance and safety net programs in order to combat food insecurity and poor infant nutrition.

IPUMS Health Surveys Research Award Winners:

Published Research (TIE):
Ning Hsieh and Hui Liu. “Bisexuality, Union Status, and Gender Composition of the Couple: Reexamining Marital Advantage in Health.” Demography, 56, 1791–1825. DOI: 10.1007/s13524-019-00813-2 

Using information from IPUMS NHIS on bisexuality, relationship status, and partner’s gender, Shieh and Liu evaluated whether married bisexuals experienced the same health premium enjoyed by married heterosexual, gay, and lesbian couples. They found married bisexuals exhibited poorer health than unmarried bisexuals and, among married bisexuals, same-gender unions proved healthier than different-gender unions.

Jason Schnittker and Duy Do. “Pharmaceutical Side Effects and Mental Health Paradoxes among Racial-Ethnic Minorities.” Journal of Health and Social Behavior, 61(1), 4-23. DOI: 10.1177%2F0022146519899115

Schnittker and Do examined the apparent paradox of racial-ethnic minorities having better mental health than non-Hispanic whites, despite their poorer physical health and greater discrimination and stress. Using IPUMS MEPS linked to MEPS-HC prescribed drug files, they investigated the role played by non-Hispanic whites’ higher consumption of prescription drugs with depression and suicide side effects, finding that the racial-ethnic minority advantage was then either attenuated or eliminated.

Student Research:
Morgan Peele. “Is Declining Mental Health in the U.S. a White Phenomenon? Racial Disparities in Mental Health from 1997 to 2018.” University of Pennsylvania – School of Arts and Sciences.

Analyzing psychological distress by racial-ethnic group using IPUMS NHIS, Peele uncovered three distinct trends. Among all groups, psychological distress decreased between 1997 and 2002, then increased. Beginning in 2012, psychological distress stayed the same or decreased among all groups except non-Hispanic whites. For non-Hispanic whites, psychological distress sharply increased beginning in 2012, due to rising anxiety among better-educated whites rather than deteriorating socioeconomic conditions among less-educated whites.

IPUMS Spatial Research Award Winners:

Published Research:
Jacob William Faber. “Segregation and the Cost of Money: Race, Poverty, and the Prevalence of Alternative Financial Institutions.” Social Forces, 98(2), 819–848. DOI: 10.1093/sf/soy129

Faber examines how the prevalence of alternative financial services (payday lenders, check cashers, etc.) is associated with neighborhood and metropolitan-area characteristics, using a wide range of American Community Survey data from NHGIS. One of several compelling findings is that disparities between white and non-white neighborhoods are greatest in the most segregated metropolitan areas.

Student Research:
Megan Doherty Bea. “Policy to Protect Financially Vulnerable Populations: A Look at the 2007 Military Lending Act. ” University of Wisconsin.

Using data on the locations of payday lender storefronts and military bases in combination with census tract data from NHGIS, Doherty Bea finds that federal regulation specifically targeted to restrict payday lending to military service members was less effective at reducing the number of lenders near bases than statewide policies addressing payday lending more generally.

IPUMS Global Health Research Award Winners:

Published Research:
Benjamin Schwab and Ralph Armah. “Can food safety shortfalls disrupt ‘Ag for Nutrition’ gains? Evidence from Eid al-Adha.” Food Policy, 83, 170-179. DOI: 10.1016/j.foodpol.2019.01.002

Using a natural experiment of increased meat consumption and home slaughter by Moslem households during the Eid holiday in 12 African and Asian countries, compared to non-Muslim households and Muslim households at other times of the year, the authors find an increase in diarrheal disease in young children associated with higher consumption of animal source foods. The authors take advantage of data from multiple countries and use variables (such as RELIGION) requiring the integration supplied by IPUMS DHS. They raise a previously overlooked health issue, that attempts to improve nutrition through increasing smallholder livestock production may have non-trivial negative effects on child health through increased risk of diarrheal disease.

Student Research:
Wei Chang. “Abortion Laws and Life Choices of Young Women and Girls in Sub-Saharan Africa: A Cross-County Analysis.” University of North Carolina.

Using a difference-in-differences approach, Chang compares marriage, birth, and schooling rates in 10 countries that expanded the legal grounds for abortion and in eight countries where abortion laws remained extremely restrictive between 1996 and 2015. This analysis demonstrates how IPUMS DHS data can be used fruitfully to look at change over time across multiple countries and uses policy changes as a clever natural experiment. The work also has important policy implications, showing that increasing legal access to abortion enhances girls’ and young women’s ability to delay marriage and childbearing.

IPUMS Time Use Research Award Winners:

Published Research:
Eric A. Morris. “Do cities or suburbs offer higher quality of life? Intrametropolitan location, activity patterns, access, and subjective well-being.” Cities, 89, 228-242. DOI: 10.1016/j.cities.2019.02.012

Do city dwellers have all the fun, or are the suburbs the best place to find what is good in life? Morris leverages multiple dimensions of the American Time Use Survey to compare time use and well-being of Americans living in cities versus suburbs, finding, on balance, few differences between suburbanites and city dwellers. The results show that activity patterns are similar among city residents and suburbanites and that travel time differences for activities are minor. The activities in which city residents and suburbanites engage are associated with very similar degrees of subjective well-being (SWB), including both life satisfaction and affect.

Student Research:
Daniela Negraia. “Unpacking the ‘Mixed Bag’ of Parents and Nonparents’ Emotional Well-being across Contexts.” Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research.

Negraia compares the experienced well-being of parents and non-parents in micro and macro contexts to unpack the mixed bag of emotions associated with parenting. She finds that the parenting gap existed primarily during leisure, somewhat during housework, and not during market work. The presence of children during activities is a major driver of these differences as indicated by a few differences between parent and non-parent well-being during activities when children are not present.

Congratulations to all our winners, and thank you to everyone who submitted their work. Next year’s award process will open in November 2020.