How to Use IPUMS Extraction Tools to Download Survey Data

Almost all of my visualization projects that use data from the Census Bureau comes via IPUMS. In this guide, I provide five steps to getting the data you need using their tools.

IPUMS provides extraction tools to download gigabytes of microdata from Census Bureau surveys, among other sources.

You could get the data directly from the source, but it’s not an especially fun or straightforward process. IPUMS tools on the other hand, while they have their quirks, are far more usable, which means you don’t have to spend as much time data munging. Documentation is detailed and actual people respond to your questions. And, it’s all free to use.

Almost all of my visualization projects that used Census Bureau data in recent years started with an download via IPUMS. In this guide, I’ll show you how to get started with IPUMS extraction tools in five easy steps.

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About the Author

Nathan Yau is a statistician who works primarily with visualization. He earned his PhD in statistics from UCLA, is the author of two best-selling books — Data Points and Visualize This — and runs FlowingData. Introvert. Likes food. Likes beer.