Can the "Urban" variable be compared across nations?

Dear IPUMS International,

I am intrigued by the IPUMS international sample but I am puzzled about whether the “Urban” variable can be compared across nations. Is a consistent definition used across nations such as an average Population per square mile exceeding a threshold value?

Best Regards,

Matthew Kahn

Data for the variable URBAN comes directly from what is provided in the data shared with IPUMS; we harmonize URBAN by collapsing a variety of responses into this general indicator, but this does not provide a globally consistent definition. The comparability section of the URBAN metadata provides information on how urban/rural status was defined in each sample (you must select the sample(s) of interest in the data finder to see the sample-specific comparability information). You can also find the original uncollapsed data that goes into URBAN by referring to the Source Variables section.

You might alternatively be interested in POPDENSGEO1 and POPDENSGEO2, which report the population density per square kilometer of the first and second major administrative unit in which the household was enumerated. You could use these variables to create an alternative definition of urban/rural areas.