IPUMS Announces 2023 Research Award Recipients

IPUMS research awardsIPUMS is excited to announce the winners of its annual IPUMS Research Awards. These awards honor the best published research and nominated graduate student papers from 2023 that use IPUMS data to advance or deepen our understanding of social and demographic processes.

The 2023 competition awarded prizes for the best published and best graduate student research in eight categories:

  1. IPUMS USA, providing data from the U.S. decennial censuses, the American Community Survey, and includes full count data, from 1850 to the present.
  2. IPUMS CPS, providing data from the monthly U.S. labor force survey, the Current Population Survey (CPS), from 1962 to the present.
  3. IPUMS International, providing harmonized data contributed by more than 100 international statistical office partners; it currently includes information on over 1 billion people in more than 547 censuses and surveys from around the world, from 1960 forward.
  4. IPUMS Health Surveys, which makes available the U.S. National Health Interview Survey (NHIS) and the Medical Expenditure Panel Survey (MEPS).
  5. IPUMS Spatial, covering IPUMS NHGIS, IPUMS IHGIS, IPUMS Terra, and IPUMS CDOH. NHGIS includes U.S. census summary tables and GIS boundary files from 1790 to the present; IHGIS provides data tables from population and housing censuses as well as agricultural censuses from around the world; Terra (now decommissioned) provided data on population and the environment from 1960 to the present; CDOH provides access to measures of disparities, policies, and counts, by state and county, for historically marginalized populations in the US.
  6. 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.
  7. IPUMS Time Use, providing time diary data from the U.S. and around the world from 1965 to the present.
  8. IPUMS Excellence in Research, The IPUMS mission of democratizing data demands that we increase representation of scholars from groups that are systemically excluded in research spaces. This award is an opportunity to highlight and reward outstanding work using any of the IPUMS data collections by authors who are underrepresented in social science research*.

Over 1,200 publications based on IPUMS data appeared in journals, magazines, and newspapers worldwide last year. From these publications and from nominated graduate student papers, the award committees selected the 2023 honorees.

IPUMS USA Research Award Winners:

Published Research:

Zachary Ward
Intergenerational Mobility in American History: Accounting for Race and Measurement Error

Ward’s article is a major contribution to an important area of social science research. Using multiple full-count census rounds, Ward connects important measurement issues to substantive results. He argues that our understanding of trends in social mobility between 1850 and 1940 require significant revision, and that social mobility today is higher than in the past.

Student Research:

Jonathan Tollefson
Environmental risk and the reorganization of urban inequality in the late 19th and early 20th century

Tollefson’s paper uses creative methods to identify environmental hazards from insurance maps, showing how to enrich full-count census data on topics not covered in the census. The methods are well documented, providing a roadmap for use with other topics. Tollefson’s measures of exposures to gas manufacturing show how living near environmental hazards moved from being ethnically stratified in 1880 to racially stratified in 1930.

IPUMS CPS Research Award Winners:

Published Research:

Kaitlyn M. Berry, Julia A. Rivera Drew, Patrick J. Brady, Rachel Widome
Impact of smoking cessation on household food security

Berry and colleagues leverage the rotating panel and supplement features of the Current Population Survey (CPS) to examine whether reductions in cigarette use are linked to food security, thus extending a knowledge base that is primarily based on cross-sectional associations. Their results suggest that smoking cessation substantially reduces the risks of food insecurity, especially for those households with low and very low food security.

Student Research:

Sungbin Park, Kyung Min Lee, and John Earle
Death Without Benefits: Unemployment Insurance, Re-Employment, and the Spread of Covid

Park and colleagues exploit state-level variation in the reduction of unemployment benefits during the summer of 2021 to examine the impacts on re-employment behavior across adjacent months of the Current Population Survey (CPS) between February and August of 2021 and on COVID outcomes. They find that state-level reductions in unemployment benefits both increased the likelihood of re-employment and reduced the time to re-employment, but also resulted in increased COVID cases, hospitalizations, and deaths.

IPUMS International Research Award Winners:

Published Research:

Seife Dendir
Intergenerational Education Mobility in Sub-Saharan Africa

This paper uses census data from 22 countries in Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA), available through IPUMS International. The author applies the intergenerational correlation method (IGC) to investigate the relationship between parents’ and children’s educational attainment across six cohorts born between the mid-1950s and early 1990s. As a whole, the SSA region had medium to high levels of educational mobility during the latter half of the twentieth century, but with worsening mobility over time. The degree of educational mobility varies widely across countries in the region, but with a narrowing gender gap across many countries. The paper demonstrates the power of census data from IPUMS International for cross-national and cross-temporal analysis. This paper is significant in its examination of developing countries that have not been studied extensively compared to their developing counterparts, and more particularly in SSA from which very little educational mobility evidence comes.

Student Research:

Rita Trias-Prats
Gender Asymmetries in Household Headship

This paper uses IPUMS census data from 156 countries combined with global health survey data in the combined form of the CORESIDENCE database to describe female household headship on a global scale. The paper documents increasing female household headship worldwide, comparing female-headed households with male-headed households in terms of size and household composition. The paper highlights important measurement and operationalization issues by discussing assumptions built into the data collection and coding methods used to document household structure. The CORESIDENCE database and this paper showcase the breadth of IPUMS data and especially the importance of rich corresponding metadata in conducting sound methodological research.

IPUMS Health Surveys Research Award Winners:

Published Research:

Jessica Y Ho
Lifecourse Patterns of Prescription Drug Use in the United States

This work represents a novel application of demographic techniques to MEPS population-level prescribed medicine data for 1996-2019. Ho charts the historic expansion of prescribed medicine utilization in the United States, by sex and race/ethnicity, showing a dramatic increase in the simultaneous use of multiple drugs across much of the lifespan. The author attributes this dramatic change to institutional shifts in the medical and pharmaceutical industries, population aging, and long-term treatment of chronic disease.

Student Research:

Namgyoon Oh
Nutrition to Nurturance: The Impact of Children’s WIC Eligibility Loss on Parental Well-being

Combining pooled IPUMS NHIS data from 2002-14 with data on participants in the WIC supplemental nutrition program, Oh addresses a policy-relevant question about the impact of negative child-related income shocks on parental well-being. The study uses a broad range of information from NHIS, including measures of mental health, medication nonadherence, food insecurity, mortality, family income and poverty, and family relationships and finds that the negative effects of WIC loss on parental mental health are largely concentrated among single mothers.

IPUMS Spatial Research Award Winners:

Published Research:

Clark Gray and Maia Call
Heat and drought reduce subnational population growth in the global tropics

Gray and Call use integrated population census and climate data from IPUMS Terra for 1,809 subnational districts in 29 tropical countries to test the popular narrative that climate change will lead to depopulation of vulnerable areas. Examining intercensal periods between 1970 and 2013, they find that exposure to temperatures substantially above and/or precipitation substantially below local averages tend to depress population growth rates, but do not lead to negative population growth.

Student Research:

Nicolas Longuet-Marx
Party Lines or Voter Preferences? Explaining Political Realignment

Longuet-Marx investigates the extent to which U.S. political realignment by education levels can be attributed separately to changes in party platforms, party discipline, voter demographics, and voter preferences. The analysis combines small-area demographic data from IPUMS NHGIS for 2000 through 2020 with precinct-level election results, all standardized to 2010 block groups. The main finding is that most of the realignment “can be attributed to changes in the supply side, in particular changes in national party positions.”

IPUMS Global Health Research Award Winners:

Published Research:

Chad Hazlett, Antonio P. Ramos, and Stephen Smith
Better individual-level risk models can improve the targeting and life-saving potential of early-mortality interventions

In a piece with important policy implications, the authors demonstrate that public health efforts targeting the poorest households perform little better than random targeting in reducing infant mortality rates in sub-Saharan Africa. Employing IPUMS DHS data from 22 countries and machine learning techniques, they show that using available pre-birth variables (such as the infant death of a sibling) can effectively identify the most at-risk 10 percent of infants and eliminate 15 to 30 percent of infant deaths, depending on the country.

Student Research:

Sara Ronnkvist, Brian Thiede, and Emma Barber
Child Fostering in a Changing Climate: Evidence from Sub-Saharan Africa

Using contextual variables on temperature and precipitation, household composition data, and birth records from IPUMS DHS for 23 sub-Saharan African countries, the authors evaluate climate effects on child fostering, an under-studied aspect of climate-related migration. Taking an admirably nuanced approach, they find that the cultural prevalence of child fostering, the number of resident biological children, and the socioeconomic status of households affect whether and how child fostering rates change in response to climate shocks.

IPUMS Time Use Research Award Winners:

Published Research:

Eunjeong Paek
Workplace computerization and inequality in schedule control

Paek is resourceful in their use of data from the Current Population Survey (CPS) and the American Time Use Survey (ATUS) to examine the relationship between computer use at work and schedule control. They assemble a dataset combining CPS Work Schedule Supplement and ATUS Leave Module data along with occupational-level computerization measures from the CPS and other occupational characteristics from O*NET and find that higher educated workers benefit the most from technological advancements and computerization of work with regards to schedule control.

Student Research:

Anja Gruber
The Impact of Job Loss on Parental Time Investment

Gruber links labor market data from the Current Population Survey (CPS) with time diary data from the American Time Use Survey (ATUS) to examine how job loss affects changes in parental time investments in children. They find that lower- and higher-income parents similarly invest their time freed up by job loss in their children, suggesting that the negative impacts of parental job loss on children (especially from low-income families) is not explained by differences in parental time investments.

IPUMS Excellence In Research Awards Winners:

Published Research:

Samuel H. Kye, Andrew Halpern-Manners
If Residential Segregation Persists, What Explains Widespread Increases in Residential Diversity?

How can there be simultaneous improvements in neighborhood diversity but worsening residential segregation? Kye and Halpern-Manners tackle this question using block- and place-level data from IPUMS NHGIS, outlining the transformation of neighborhoods’ racial composition and the resulting place-level changes in racial segregation. The authors identify White flight as a force making neighborhoods more racially diverse, but intensifying residential segregation within larger areas.

Student Research:

Sophie Li
The Effect of a Woman-Friendly Occupation on Employment: U.S. Postmasters Before World War II

Linking appointments of married women as postmasters from 1920-1940 to IPUMS full count census data, Li investigates how the presence of an occupation favorable to married women provided them with short-term economic gain but did not advance further employment opportunities. The paper shows an understanding of the complexities of working with historical census data and brings attention to how the interaction of economic, social, and legal factors affects women’s employment.


Congratulations to all our winners, and thank you to everyone who submitted their work. Next year’s awards will open this coming winter.


*Because IPUMS is based in the United States, we often include persons who identify as Black/African American, Indigenous, Hispanic/Latino/a/x, Asian American, first-generation college graduates or students, LGBTQ persons, or persons with disabilities in our definition of systemically excluded groups. We recognize for scholars outside of the U.S., in particular, this list may not capture discrimination in their social contexts, and encourage submissions from persons who identify with a group that has been systemically excluded even if it is not explicitly listed here.