IPUMS Now Has Harmonized Data on Youth Health and Risk Behaviors

IPUMS is offering harmonized versions of two important youth health surveys: the National Youth Tobacco Survey (NYTS) and the Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance System (YRBSS). This work was done in collaboration with NORC at the University of Chicago and with funding from the Food and Drug Administration Center for Tobacco Products. Funding did not include a dissemination system, but IPUMS and NORC did not want this valuable work to be lost, so interested researchers may download a single file for each dataset that harmonizes all variables and contains all available years of data (as of June 2017).

Both IPUMS NYTS and IPUMS YRBSS build on the original public use files by applying consistent codes and providing the same explanatory documentation available through IPUMS websites in the form of a static codebook. Additionally, IPUMS renames the original public use data variables so they have consistent names over time and within topical categories; in the original public use files, variables are named for their order in the questionnaire (e.g., the variable “q1”, which reports the respondent’s age, has been renamed to “AGE” in the harmonized IPUMS dataset). The multi-year harmonized data files for IPUMS NYTS and IPUMS YRBSS can be downloaded with corresponding syntax files for Stata, SAS, SPSS, and R.

IPUMS NYTS is a cross-sectional national survey of youth in grades 6-12 and collects nationally representative data about:

  • tobacco behavior
  • beliefs and attitudes about tobacco
  • exposure to pro- and anti-tobacco influences

Figure 1 is an example of using IPUMS NYTS data to explore the relationship between co-resident cigarette use and adolescent cigarette use.

Figure 1. Adolescent lifetime cigarette use by co-resident cigarette smoking status, 2011-2014


IPUMS YRBSS is a cross-sectional national survey of youth in grades 9-12 with emphasis on health risk behaviors that are often established during childhood and adolescence:

  • tobacco use
  • alcohol and other drug use
  • unintentional injuries
  • sexual behavior
  • unhealthy diet
  • inadequate physical activity

Figure 2 illustrates how researchers might use IPUMS YRBSS to examine substance use among U.S. high school students over time.

Figure 2. Past month substance use among U.S. high school students, 1991-2013*

*no 2013 data on past month cocaine use

You can find IPUMS NYTS and YRBSS data at https://www.ipums.org/IPUMSNYTS.shtml and https://www.ipums.org/IPUMSYRBSS.shtml.

Story by Kari C.W. Williams
Senior Data Analyst, IPUMS