What are "general" and "detailed" versions of variables?


What are “general” and “detailed” versions of variables?



Most variables in the IPUMS have a composite coding structure, where the first digit is largely comparable across samples, and second and subsequent digits provide progressively more detail available in some samples and not others. For some highly requested variables, the composite coding structure is formally recognized in our system by distinguishing separate “general” and “detailed” versions of the variable. For example, researchers can access an internationally comparable 1-digit general version of “employment status” via IPUMS-International, or they can use the fully detailed 3-digit version, if their research requires finer distinctions. The two sets of codes are completely consistent with one another; one simply provides more categories, while the other is simpler to use and usually more comparable across samples.

The variables with general versions have a checkbox in the “general version” column in the data extract variable selection screen. Other variables only have the default full-detail version. It is possible to include both the general and the detailed version of a variable in a data extract. Both versions of a variable come with appropriate syntax labels. In data extracts, the detailed version of the variable gets a “D” appended onto the end of its mnemonic (for example, for “employment status,” EMPSTAT is general and EMPSTATD is detailed).

The general and detailed versions of a variable both correspond to the same description in the documentation system. The codes and frequencies of each version are viewable separately on the relevant variable codes page.