Mission & Purpose

IPUMS Mission

IPUMS democratizes access to the world’s social and economic data for current and future generations. We enable transformative scholarship, teaching and policy making by integrating data and documentation across time and space and by streamlining data access through innovative dissemination technology.


IPUMS provides census and survey data from around the world integrated across time and space. IPUMS integration and documentation makes it easy to study change, conduct comparative research, merge information across data types, and analyze individuals within family and community context. Data and services are available free of charge.

Over the past 25 years, IPUMS has received 70 federal grants and contracts totaling over $140 million to curate, integrate, and disseminate government-produced data collections. Major funding for these projects has come from the National Institutes of Health, the National Science Foundation, and the Food and Drug Administration. IPUMS includes data produced by a broad range of agencies, including the Census Bureau, the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the National Science Foundation, the National Center for Health Statistics, the Centers for Disease Control, and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration.

In collaboration with 105 national statistical agencies, nine national archives, and three genealogical organizations, IPUMS has created the world’s largest accessible database of census microdata. IPUMS includes almost a billion records from U.S. censuses from 1790 to the present and over a billion records from the international censuses of over 100 countries. We have also harmonized survey data with over 30,000 integrated variables and 150 million records, including the Current Population Survey, the American Community Survey, the National Health Interview Survey, the Demographic and Health Surveys, and an expanding collection of labor force, health, and education surveys. In total, IPUMS currently disseminates integrated microdata describing 1.4 billion individuals drawn from over 750 censuses and surveys.

In addition to census and survey microdata, IPUMS integrates and disseminates area-level census data and electronic boundaries describing census geography for the U.S. and internationally. IPUMS NHGIS, the nation's most comprehensive database of area-level U.S. census data from 1790 to the present, includes 366 billion data points and 28 million map polygons. IPUMS IHGIS includes published census tables and boundaries of the associated geographic units for more than 30 population and agricultural censuses from around the world, as well as tabulations from IPUMS International samples.

Our signature activity is harmonizing variable codes and documentation to be fully consistent across datasets. This work rests on an extensive technical infrastructure developed over more than two decades, including the first structured metadata system for integrating disparate datasets. By using a data warehousing approach, we extract, transform, and load data from diverse sources into a single view schema so data from different sources become compatible. The large-scale data integration from IPUMS makes thousands of population datasets interoperable. We have created software for consistency checking, automated data cleaning and editing, sampling, disclosure control, database harmonization, metadata creation, and parsing. Our data projects exploit machine-learning technology for automated string classification and record linkage and employ parallel processing to manipulate large datasets in our high-performance computing environment.

IPUMS is a part of the Institute for Social Research and Data Innovation at the University of Minnesota and is directed by Regents Professor Steven Ruggles.


FAQ: What is IPUMS an acronym for?

Technically, nothing! IPUMS originally stood for Integrated Public Use Microdata Series. In 2016, all of our data projects took on the IPUMS prefix as part of their project name (e.g., IPUMS NHGIS, IPUMS IHGIS, etc.). Since not all these projects are microdata and some have access conditions that limit their usage, it became inaccurate to describe IPUMS as a "public use microdata series". Since then, we've just gone by IPUMS, and no longer treat it as an acronym.