Making Your Customized IPUMS MICS Data File

By Anna Bolgrien

The newest IPUMS data collection, IPUMS MICS, has many similarities with other IPUMS microdata collections. However, there is one major difference: the IPUMS MICS Data Extract System only uses Stata.

Yes, you read that right. Users of IPUMS MICS must use Stata to open and create their customized data file.

Let’s start with how using IPUMS MICS is the same as using other IPUMS microdata collections.

If you are an IPUMS user, you will find the process of browsing the variables, looking at documentation, and adding samples to your data cart completely familiar. If you are not familiar with IPUMS, you can read more about browsing and selecting variables.

However, when you finish choosing variables and samples in IPUMS MICS and click “Create Extract,” things start to look different.

Normally, you could change the data format, but the only option currently available for IPUMS MICS is a .dat (fixed-width text) file format.

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Online Analysis Tool Now Exports CSV Output

By Matthew Sobek

IPUMS is pleased to announce a major usability upgrade to our online analysis tool: the ability to download tabular output as a CSV file. No more cleaning up html!

The IPUMS online analysis tool has been a big hit with our users, and we’ve made it available for most of the IPUMS data collections. If you haven’t tried it, you should. We even have a tutorial.

Despite its popularity with users, the SDA (Survey Documentation and Analysis) software that drives the system has always had a significant limitation: it produces tables in html format, which is fine for web display but highly inconvenient for cutting and pasting into documents.

In spring 2020 the SDA folks at the Institute for Scientific Analysis were looking for a new project and thoughtfully asked what change we thought users would most appreciate. We responded immediately “CSV downloads,” and within a few months, they had produced a working version of the software that incorporates the new feature. We have now upgraded all the IPUMS sites that offer online analysis to the new version of SDA.

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Delivering data: Technology at the MPC

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“Good IT is invisible,” says MPC IT Core director Fran Fabrizio. “You want the users to have the idea that it’s a magic black box.” Though the intent is for the technology behind IPUMS and the other MPC data tools to seem effortless, Fabrizio understands the extent of the human work goes that goes into producing good technology. Getting 2.6 terabytes of data out to users each week requires no small amount of technology behind it.

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