IPUMS is an amazing resource for population data! Their official motto: Use it for good, never for evil.

Screen_shot_2012-01-15_at_12
Screen_shot_2012-01-15_at_12

My sister forwarded me an amazing article from The New York Times today: “Among the Wealthiest One Percent, Many Variations.” The article looks closely at the spectrum of just exactly who consitutes being included in the 1%. I know I don’t.

But in reality it is a far larger and more varied group, one that includes podiatrists and actuaries, executives and entrepreneurs, the self-made and the silver spoon set. They are clustered not just in New York and Los Angeles, but also in Denver and Dallas. The range of wealth in the 1 percent is vast — from households that bring in $380,000 a year, according to census data, up to billionaires like Warren E. Buffett and Bill Gates.

There is a linked infographic that sort of blew my mind: The Top 1 Percent: What Jobs Do They Have?  I love that on the lower left it includes: School teachers don’t earn enough to make the top 1 percent on their own, but many live in 1-percent households, primarily through marriage.

At the bottom of the infographic, it says information was sourced from IPUMS. I Googled IPUMS and found out it stands for Integrated Public Use Microdata Series. The Wikipedia entry about IPUMS (yes, Wikipedia is usually my first resource) taught me:

Integrated Public Use Microdata Series (IPUMS) is the world’s largest individual-level population database. IPUMS consists of microdata samples from United States (IPUMS-USA) and international (IPUMS-International) census records. The records are converted into a consistent format and made available to researchers through a web-based data dissemination system.

IPUMS is housed at the Minnesota Population Center, an interdisciplinary research center at the University of Minnesota, under the direction of Professor Steven Ruggles.

IPUMS-USA draws on every surviving United States census from 1850 to 2000 (with the exception of 1890 census, which was destroyed in a fire) and from the American Community Survey of 2000-2009. During certain years, IPUMS-USA also makes available over-samples of African-Americans, Alaskans, American Indians, Hawaiians, and Hispanics. The IPUMS provides consistent variable names, coding schemes, and documentation across all the samples, facilitating the analysis of long-term change.

IPUMS-International includes countries from Africa, Asia, Europe, and Latin America for 1960 forward. The database currently includes 159 samples from 55 countries around the world. IPUMS-International converts census microdata for multiple countries into a consistent format, allowing for comparisons across countries and time periods. Special efforts are made to simplify use of the data while losing no meaningful information. Comprehensive documentation is provided in a coherent form to facilitate comparative analyses of social and economic change.

Additional databases in the IPUMS family include: (1) the North Atlantic Population Project (NAPP), (2) the National Historical Geographic Information System (NHGIS), (3) the Integrated Health Interview Series (IHIS), and (4) the Integrated Public Use Microdata Series-Current Population Survey (IPUMS-CPS).

The Journal of American History described the effort as “One of the great archival projects of the past two decades.” The official motto of IPUMS is “use it for good, never for evil.” All IPUMS data and documentation are available online free of charge.

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