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Integrated Public Use Microdata Series-International (IPUMS-International) is an effort to inventory, preserve, harmonize, and disseminate census microdata from around the world. IPUMS-International aims to convert census data from five continents into a uniformly coded and fully documented data series. Nearly all countries included in the data series contribute data from multiple census years. The project uses the same principles and methods that underlie the successful IPUMS-USA model. The data are distributed free of charge via a Web-based data extraction system. Use of the data is restricted to scholarly and educational purposes. The project is conceived as part of a larger enterprise to make the world's microdata available to researchers, encouraging cross-national research with a temporal dimension.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)60-65
Number of pages6
JournalHistorical Methods
Issue number2
StatePublished - Mar 2003

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
sus samples were over a decade old, U.S. census microdata were used three times as often as the next most popular data source. By contrast, during the same two years not a single article in Demography made use of census microdata from the developing world. Virtually every country in the world created machine-readable census microdata in the course of conducting the censuses of the last 40 years. In many cases, however, these machine-readable files are endangered because of technological change and aging electronic media. Our first goal, therefore, was to identify and preserve surviving machine-readable data whenever possible. Even when microdata have been appropriately archived, however, they are usually inaccessible to researchers. A second goal, therefore, was to seek agreements from each national statistical agency to disseminate the data for scholarly research and education, subject to strict confidentiality protections. IPUMS-International aims not only to make international census data available but also to make them readily usable. Even when census microdata are obtainable, comparison across countries or time periods is difficult because of inconsistencies between data sets and inadequate documentation of comparability issues. Consequently, comparative international research based on pooled census samples is rarely attempted. IPUMS-International reduces the barriers to international research by converting international census microdata into a uniform format, providing comprehensive documentation, and making the data available to researchers through a Web-based access system. The project builds on our work to create a harmonized database of U.S. microdata between 1850 and 2000 (IPUMS-USA) (see Ruggles and Sobek 1997)' IPUMS- International extends the IPUMS model beyond the United States. Begun in 1999, the first phase of IPUMS-International includes microdata samples from 8 countries with broad geographical distribution. These data are being cleaned, harmonized, documented, and disseminated using the same principles and methods that underlie the original IPUMS-USA database. The five-year project is funded by the National Science Foundation, supplemented by a grant from the National Institutes of Health (NIH). A project to add data for 16 additional Latin American countries has just been funded by NM, and projects to add data from dozens of additional countries in Europe, Africa, and Asia are in the planning stages.

Funding Information:
IPUMS-International is funded by a social science infrastructure grant from the National Science Foundation (SBR 99074 16). Steven Ruggles, principal investigator. The procurement and development of Colombian samples is funded by the National Institutes of Health (ROI HD037508), Robert McCaa, principal investigator.


  • Census
  • Demography
  • Microdata
  • Population


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