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Finding & Using U.S. Census Data

A guide for finding and ulilizing data from the U.S. Census


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IPUMS-USA is a project dedicated to collecting and distributing
United States census data. Its goals are to:

  • Collect and preserve data and documentation
  • Harmonize data
  • Disseminate the data absolutely free!

Access IPUMS USA Data here!


What is Microdata?

In surveys and interviews, microdata is the information at the level of the individual respondent. Example: The U.S. Census collects age, address, educational levels and employment status for anyone who responded to the survey. We would typically look at summary statistics by certain geographic units of analysis such as: census tract, state, or county.

For obvious reasons, releasing the full microdata from a survey conducted by the U.S. Census would pose significant risks. However, in order to explore how one variable affects the other (education level vs. income).

Census Regional Data Center

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Census Research Data Centers (RDCs) are U.S. Census Bureau facilities, staffed by a Census Bureau employee, which meet all physical and computer security requirements for access to restricted-use data. At RDCs, qualified researchers with approved projects receive restricted access to selected non-public Census Bureau data files. Currently, there are 15 Census Research Data Center locations.

The Florida State University is the newest member of the Atlanta Census RDC Consortium which means that lab fees are waived for approved RDC projects. Lab fees typically range upward towards $10,000 per project for non-affiliated researchers.

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