Year of immigration variable missing for IPUMS International

I’m working on an immigration-related project using the census data from across the world accessed from IPUMS International (around the year 2010). After some exploration, I found that the variable for “year of immigration” (harmonized or uncategorized) is largely missing for most countries. When I restrict my sample to countries with available nativity, country of birth, and year of immigration variables, I end up with less than 15 countries.

I’m curious whether this is normal for other users, or am I doing something wrong or missing something? A follow-up question is whether the IPUMS International dataset is suitable for cross-country research on immigrants, based on the availability of relevant variables. I would appreciate any feedback or comments!


What you’re finding in terms of variable availability seems accurate to me. YRIMM (Year of Immigration) is available for 27 different countries, though not all years have data from all of these countries. NATIVITY (whether someone is native-born) and BPLCOUNTRY (Country of Birth) both have much better coverage, though I assume you’re looking for an additional time component to your analysis of cross-country migration. You might be interested in MIGCTRY5 (Country of Residence 5 Years Ago). Though it has a similar sized sample of countries as YRIMM, it also gives you the country information in the same variable.

As to your broader question on whether the IPUMS International dataset is suitable for cross-country research on immigrants, it depends on your research question. As you can see, the data IPUMS-I has on international migration is by no means exhaustive. However, if you are looking to focus on international migration in a specific country, or between a limited set of countries, there might be plenty to work with.

Hi Ivan,

Thank you for the excellent response. Your responses to both of my questions are quite helpful for me to decide the next step forward. I appreciate it!