What does beta mean for MEPS?

Hi all,

The header on MEPS’ webpage says that “Data and documentation may be incomplete or modified in future releases”. Two questions:

  1. Would you advise using the current IPUMS MEPS data for research or not? Obviously I know some variables may be missing (the “incomplete” part of the header there), but the question is if I can trust what is currently in there (in other words, it is the “modified” part of the header that concerns me).

  2. When do you expect the IPUMS MEPS to move from the beta stage to the final product, so to speak?

Thanks for all the help.

I would advise that the current IPUMS MEPS data are suitable for research. Our data processing and documentation systems are robust and we have a revision history where we document changes to the data, as well as creating DOI snapshots to capture the data annually so individuals may request a specific vintage of the data if necessary.

The IPUMS MEPS site is in beta because of the complexity of MEPS data and preponderance of available documentation. When first launched, many variables included in IPUMS MEPS did not include comparability information or universe statements and only offered the annual- and round-level variables from the MEPS Full Year Consolidated (FYC) file. Because harmonizing variables over time and documenting comparability of variables is a hallmark of IPUMS, labeling the site as beta seemed appropriate as we focused on expanding documentation and data coverage. I do not have a definitive timeline of when IPUMS MEPS will be moved out of beta, but should note that since the first launch we have expanded universe and comparability documentation and added additional file types.

I hope this helps.