How can I find a variable I want to obtain?


I am looking for a variable indicating number (or percentage) of low-income families with children by race in Massachusettes between 2011-2015. Could you explain how to find it, please?


There is no single variable in IPUMS that will provide this information. Instead, you’ll have to look at several variables together. To identify low-income families you could use one of the income variables (e.g. FTOTINC) and define a “low income” threshold yourself. Or you can use the POVERTY variable which expresses each family’s total income for the previous year as a percentage of the poverty threshold established by the Social Security Administration. To identify which households have children, the NCHILD variable should be helpful. Race can be identified by using the RACE variable. Finally, you can limit your sample to only records in Massachusetts by including theSTATEFIP variable, and utilizing the “Select Cases” tool in the IPUMS data extract system.

I hope this is helpful.


The previous answer indicates how you can obtain the info from census microdata via IPUMS-USA. The data is also available in state-level census tables in ACS Summary Files, which you can find through IPUMS NHGIS.

To use NHGIS, go to the NHGIS Data Finder and select these filters:

Geographic Levels: State

Years: 2011-2015

Topics: Race; Children in Households; Poverty (Income Relative to Poverty Level)

You’ll see there are 8 tables (one for each Race category) on Poverty Status by Family Type by Presence and Age of Related Children. You can select any table that interests you and proceed through the Options and Review pages to submit your data request. You will then be able to download a file that contains data for every U.S. state, including Massachusetts.