Why Should I Complete the IPUMS User Survey?

By Kari Williams

If you are an avid IPUMS user who reads every email update, you have probably noticed that we pepper you with requests to complete our annual user survey. Perhaps you have asked yourself, “why bother?” or assumed we don’t really want YOUR feedback–that the survey is meant for a different type of IPUMS data user. We conduct an annual survey of data users for three reasons: 1) we value your input, 2) we want to invest in areas that benefit users, and 3) we reference your feedback when reporting to funders on current work and in applying for support to expand IPUMS. Let me assure you, we want to hear from YOU and we hope you take a few minutes to complete the survey.

Feedback is an important part of the IPUMS lifecycle. Our mission is to democratize access to the world’s social and economic data; data users are central to the success of this mission. We can learn a lot from registration numbers for each IPUMS data collection, the number and timing of online analysis or custom data extract requests, #poweredbyIPUMS publications, or questions and comments submitted to our User Support team. However, none of these is a substitute for directly asking users what they like most about IPUMS and what we can do better.

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Reproducible Research with R Markdown, ipumsr, and the IPUMS API

By Dan Ehrlich

Have you ever wanted to share a project using IPUMS data with a colleague, but then thought, “Oh wait! It is against the terms of use to redistribute my IPUMS data file!”

Maybe you’d like a colleague to explore your findings. Or maybe you’re a teacher with an exercise you’d like your students to review and replicate. In the past, if you wanted someone to use the same IPUMS data that you did, you would need to provide a list of samples and variables and instructions for your collaborator on how to navigate the online data extract system.

If you’re thinking that sounds like a pain, don’t worry, the brand new IPUMS microdata API makes it easier than ever to share your extract definitions with fellow IPUMS users!!! Using the microdata API, you and your collaborators can:

  • Save an extract definition as a .json file that can be shared freely
  • Submit a new extract request based on a .json definition
  • Download data and metadata directly into your project directory (this feature is a personal favorite)

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IPUMS IHGIS: Unlocking International Population and Agricultural Census Data

By Tracy Kugler

Nearly all countries throughout the world conduct population and housing censuses at least every ten years, and most also conduct agricultural censuses or surveys regularly. These censuses collect information on demographics, education, employment, housing characteristics, migration, agricultural land ownership, agricultural workforce, livestock, crops, and more. The resulting data can be used to study a wide range of questions, from the character of demographic transitions within and across countries, to utilization of irrigation, to educational trends among women. 

Unfortunately, this wealth of data has remained largely inaccessible to researchers. The data are typically published in reports as tables summarizing population characteristics. In recent decades, many of these reports have been published as PDF documents and made available on national statistical office websites. While the reports are available, data from a PDF document cannot be easily imported into a statistical or GIS package. Furthermore, the table structures are highly heterogeneous, both across countries and even within the same report.

The International Historical Geographic Information System (IPUMS IHGIS) is designed to provide easy access to these data in a way that researchers can easily use for analysis. In the early phases, IHGIS was known internally as “Project Mako,” named after the Mako shark, which has a global range, voracious appetite, and a reputation for a broad-ranging diet. Like the shark, IHGIS (née Project Mako) will encompass the world and ingest all kinds of data tables.

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