IPUMS-International; Free, Worldwide Microdata Access Now for Censuses of 60 Countries, 80 by 2015
Robert McCaa, Steven Ruggles, Matthew Sobek
Minnesota Population Center, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, MN, United States

The Minnesota Population Center (MPC), through the IPUMS-International census microdata project, archives the world's largest stock of census microdata and documentation. A decade of labor assiduously scouring local, national, regional, and international archives on every continent is beginning to bear fruit. Microdata for over 350 censuses for more than 120 countries are safely ensconced in the MPC digital archives. Metadata from more than 900 censuses have been catalogued, scanned and are now being disseminated world-wide without cost in cooperation with National Statistical Institute (NSI) partners and the Integrated Health Survey Network, using the latest international standards for electronic metadata. 5,000 researchers representing more than 80 countries are registered to access confidentialized, integrated microdata without payment and with complete academic freedom thanks to a uniform licensing agreement endorsed by more the 90 NSIs. Integration lowers the barriers to entry and facilitates comparative research over space and time.

For the future, we plan to integrate and disseminate confidentialized samples of the 2010 round of censuses of the 60 countries already represented in the database. Samples for an additional 20-30 countries will be released to the global scientific community as time and resources permit. New initiatives are also planned: boundary files for GIS applications, an on-line tabulator for registered researchers, a secure enclave at the MPC and perhaps virtual enclaves for partners with certified sites offering access to full-count microdata. Several NSI partners have already embraced the proposal to pilot a secure enclave at the MPC. Before the end of this year, thanks to major funding from the National Science Foundation (USA), a new project, “TerraPop,” begins–an initiative to combine population microdata with climate and land cover data.

Keywords: Integrated census microdata; Restricted access free of cost; International metadata; Web-based dissemination

Biography: Prof McCaa (Bob) is a population historian who first analyzed census microdata for his doctoral dissertation on Population Change in Chile (1978). Worried about their preservation, he sought to encourage Census Agencies to archive the data to prevent the loss of the best record of this extraordinary period of demographic transformations. To save the data, they had to be made usable and accessible. Finally in 1999, the IPUMS-International project began, with the cooperation of 8 countries and funding by the National Science Foundation (USA) and the National Institutes of Health. In 2010, with more than 90 countries participating, Bob retired from history to work full-time on IPUMS.