New IPUMS DHS Climate Change and Health Research Hub

By Miriam King, Senior Research Scientist

Men wading through flood watersIn October 2023, the World Health Organization stated, “3.6 billion people already live in areas highly susceptible to climate change. Between 2030 and 2050, climate change is expected to cause approximately 250,000 additional deaths per year, from undernutrition, malaria, diarrhea and heat stress alone.”

The Demographic and Health Surveys (DHS) are an ideal source for research on the health effects of climate change. Since the 1980s, the DHS has collected a broad range of nationally representative health data from over 90 countries. With supplemental funding from NICHD, harmonized DHS data from IPUMS ( is now doing more to support research on the effects of climate change on health. We are adding new contextual variables; we are integrating data from Malaria Indicator Surveys (MIS); and we are offering guidance through the new Climate Change and Health Research Hub.

Sound research on climate change and health requires combining social science and health data with natural science data. While social scientists and public health researchers have considerable experience analyzing health survey data, few have been trained in simultaneously employing data on environmental factors. This knowledge gap is addressed by the Climate Change and Health Research Hub, under the leadership of Dr. Kathryn Grace and Senior Data Analyst Finn Roberts.

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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.

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2020 Public Use Microdata Area (PUMA) Updates in the 2022 American Community Survey

By Natalie Mac Arthur, Senior Research Associate, SHADAC

Thank you to our collaborators at the State Health Access Data Assistance Center (SHADAC) for contributing this blog post; view the original blog on the SHADAC website.

A Public Use Microdata Area (PUMA) is a type of geographic unit created for statistical purposes. PUMAs represent geographic areas with a population size of 100,000–200,000 within a state (PUMAs cannot cross state lines). PUMAs are the smallest level of geography available in American Community Survey (ACS) microdata. They are designed to protect respondent confidentiality while simultaneously allowing analysts to produce estimates for small geographic areas.

Every ten years, the decennial census results are used to redefine ACS PUMA boundaries to account for shifts in population and continue to maintain respondent confidentiality. This process is intended to yield geographic definitions that are meaningful to many stakeholders.

Most recently, new PUMAs were created based on the 2020 Census; these 2020 PUMAs were implemented in the ACS starting in the 2022 data year. Although Public Use Microdata Area components remain consistent to the extent possible, they are updated based on census results and revised criteria. Therefore, they are not directly comparable with PUMAs from any previous ACS data years. For example, the 2020 PUMAs used in the 2022 data year are distinct from the 2010 PUMAs, which were used in the 2012–2021 ACS data years.

The 2020 PUMAs were created based on definitions that include two substantive changes relative to the 2010 PUMAs:

1) An increase in the minimum population threshold for the minimum size of partial counties from 2,400 to 10,000. Increasing the population minimum for a PUMA-county part aims to further protect the confidentiality of respondents. However, exceptions are allowed on a case-by-case basis in order to maintain the stability of PUMA definitions (that were based on the previous minimum of 2,400) and due to unique geography.

2) Allowing noncontiguous geographic areas. Allowing PUMAs to include noncontiguous geographic areas aims to avoid unnecessarily splitting up demographic groups in order to provide more meaningful data. This change is not intended to create highly fragmented PUMAs.

Other than the two changes listed above, PUMA criteria remained consistent, such as treating 100,000 as a strict minimum population size for PUMAs. The maximum population size for PUMAs can exceed a population of 200,000 in certain instances due to expected population declines or geographic constraints.

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