By Lara Cleveland
Since the onset of the COVID-19 outbreak, researchers across the globe have been accessing census microdata from IPUMS International for COVID-19-related research. Scholars at universities from the U.S. to Nepal, Columbia to Belgium, Nigeria to China, and elsewhere have used IPUMS data to assess population dynamics contributing to COVID-19 vulnerability or spread. Divisions of the United Nations, World Bank, and other policy research institutes have similarly accessed IPUMS census data for COVID response and relief efforts.
IPUMS International harmonizes and disseminates household-level microdata census samples from more than 100 countries. Access to microdata is essential for rapid response in new areas because of its analytic flexibility. Researchers needing to build custom tables or construct variables for complex modeling suited to specific research questions can only do that with microdata. Of particular interest for research on population dynamics of COVID-19 is information about the age structure of the population, household living arrangements (household size, intergenerational co-residence, etc.), indicators of health vulnerability (age, work status, housing conditions, disability, etc.), healthcare workforce distribution, and migration patterns. IPUMS International census samples also include valuable subnational geographic identifiers at the first and second administrative levels, which are especially useful for highlighting particular regions or localities of vulnerability.