Geospatial Contextuals from IPUMS International

By Ryan Gavin & Quinn Heimann

IPUMS International launched a new platform that will aid researchers using geospatial contextual data along with IPUMS International census microdata!

What is geospatial contextual data?

Geospatial contextual data describe features of the physical and social environment of a geographic area, and allow users to explore how contextual factors interrelate with individual characteristics and outcomes. For example, in their 2020 paper in Global Environmental Change, Mueller et al. estimated the effects that climate-related variables had on migration in Botswana, Kenya, and Zambia between 1989 and 2011. Often, however, these data are large, complex, and packaged in unfamiliar ways. With this new platform, IPUMS International simplifies the process of identifying and linking contextual data with our robust repository of census microdata.

Geospatial contextual data can vary across space, time, or both and often do not obey administrative boundaries. IPUMS International is unique in offering spatiotemporally harmonized administrative geography variables, which when linked to time-variant contextual data, allow researchers to explore the relationship between social phenomena and temporally-dynamic geospatial data using a consistent spatial footprint.

For example, researchers might be interested in studying how changing January precipitation in Bangladesh from 1991-2011 is associated with social or demographic variables. In this case, harmonized geographic variables are ideal because of administrative boundary changes in Bangladesh between 2001 and 2011.

Maps of Bangladesh in 1991, 2001, and 2011 showing the total January Precipitation using year-specific geography and harmonized geography.
Bangladesh map showing January precipitation totals for each census year, showing the difference between year-specific and harmonized geography for measuring effects.

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IPUMS International: 2023 Highlights & Heading Into 2024

By Jane Lee, IPUMS International

IPUMS International is entering 2024 with a strong head start on partner relations and great energy for continued data engagement with partners and with data users. Thanks to user feedback and productive engagement with existing and prospective national statistical office (NSO) partners, users can expect access to additional census and survey data and new, exciting enhancements in 2024.

2023 was packed fuller than usual with renewed interactions with National Statisticians and statistical offices worldwide. Our attendance at the UN Statistical Commission meetings in February garnered productive conversations with countries, and we were able to move those conversations closer to next steps at the ISI WSC in July, and at the International Conference of Labor Statisticians, in October, which was an opportunity for IPUMS to connect specifically about labor force survey data sharing with NSO representatives from more than 25 countries.

Group of people standing in front of backdrop at the IAOS Conference workshopIPUMS remains committed to regional and conference-based engagement. In May, we hosted a pre-conference workshop in conjunction with IAOS (International Association for Official Statistics) Conference in Livingstone, Zambia.

The 14+ NSO labor force and census experts who attended participated in robust cross-country discussions and shared expertise, tools, and technology related to census. In partnership with UNESCWA, IPUMS International joined NSOs and data users in October at the Regional Workshop on Population Projection and Use of Microdata in Rabat, Morocco. There, IPUMS piloted a new training for statistical offices on the preparation of public-use files for the 40+ attendees.

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Going Global: IPUMS International

By Diana Magnuson

Display case with a banner "Going Global: IPUMS International" and memorabilia from around the world
The display case at IPUMS HQ

A new exhibit, “Going Global: IPUMS International,” is now on display at IPUMS headquarters, housed at the University of Minnesota. The exhibit features pieces that tell the history and scope of IPUMS International.

Beginning in 1999 with a social science infrastructure grant from the National Science Foundation, IPUMS International had a simple yet audaciously ambitious goal: preserve the world’s microdata resources and democratize access to those resources. Twenty-four years later, the goals are: collecting and preserving census and survey data and documentation; harmonizing those data; and disseminating the harmonized data free of charge. The data series includes information on an impressive range of population characteristics, including fertility, nuptiality, life-course transitions, migration, labor-force participation, occupational structure, education, ethnicity, and household composition.

Dr. Bob McCaa standing behind a table with stacks of paper
Dr. Bob McCaa

Source data for IPUMS International are generously provided by participating national statistical offices. Our staff develop and nurture relationships with representatives of NSOs from around the world. As IPUMS International got underway, co-principal investigator Dr. Bob McCaa, University of Minnesota Department of History, “proved to have formidable persuasive powers and managed to convince . . . agency directors of the benefits of preservation and access to scientific information.” Over time, IPUMS International developed a team of research scientists articulating to a broad international audience the significance of the IPUMS data collection, harmonization, and preservation work. Today, an NSF advisory committee, senior personnel including research scientists and data analysts, an external advisory panel, and graduate and undergraduate research assistants all support the work of IPUMS International.

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