Introduction to the IPUMS Translation Tables

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Go to Alphabetical Listing of IPUMS Translation Tables

The integration of disparate variable names and coding schemes is one of the most important goals of the IPUMS project. "Translation tables" are the main tool that we use to integrate various coding schemes over time. The basic function of a translation table is to show how codes from the original Public Use Microdata Samples align to codes in the IPUMS files that we make available on this website.

Translation tables have a consistent format. The first two columns of each translation table show the "integrated" IPUMS code and the IPUMS label. Subsequent columns show how values in the original source data correspond to the IPUMS codes.

Each of the columns describing original source data includes cells identifying the sample (e.g. us1940a), record type ("H" or "P"), and variable location in the original data (e.g., column 80). The codes in each column on the right-hand side of the translation table are values from the original source data. Each value in the original source data is aligned in the same row as its integrated IPUMS code in the leftmost column.

If samples from from multiple years share a record layout and coding scheme (as is often the case in the American Community Survey samples), those samples will share a column in the translation table. The same is true when multiple samples exist for a given year (for instance, the 2000 1% and 5% samples): the samples will share a column if they have the same codes and layout; they will have separate columns if they have different codes or layouts.

The list at the bottom of this page shows how samples are identified in the translation tables.

Other details:

Below is a modified example of the translation table for the IPUMS variable VETSTAT that demonstrates some of the features of the translation tables.

code label us1940a us1950a us1960a us1970b us1980a us1990a us2000a us2000d us2001a us2002a us2005a us2006a
rectype P P P P P P P P P
columns 164=165 0 80 80 72 72 138 53 60
norecode 1
0 N/A 2 2 * 0
0 Under age 18 18
0 Under age 18 21
0 Under age 18 22
0 Under age 18 28
0 Wife of veteran 23
0 Under age 17 0 B B
0 BB
1 No Service 19 1 1 1 4 4 4 5
1 Now on active duty 1 1 1
1 Training for Reserves or National Guard only 4
2 Yes 29 0 0 0
2 Yes, on active duty in past but not now 2 2 2 2
2 Yes, service in reserves or national guard only 3 3 3 3
9 Unknown 88
9 Not ascertained 89

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Original "input" or "source data" samples listed in the translation tables
us1850a1850 1% sample us1980a1980 5% sample
us1860a1860 1% sample us1980b1980 1% sample
us1860b1860 1% sample with black oversample us1980c1980 Urban/Rural sample
us1870a1870 1% sample us1980d1980 Labor Market Area sample
us1870b1870 1% sample with black oversample us1980e1980 Detailed metro/non-metro sample
us1880a1880 1% sample us1990a1990 5% sample
us1900f1900 1% sample us1990b1990 1% sample
us1900g1900 1% sample with oversamples us1990c1990 Unweighted 1% sample
us1910i1910 1% sample us1970e1970 Form 1 Neighborhood sample
us1910j1910 1.4% sample with oversamples us1990d1990 Elderly sample
us1920a1920 1% sample us1990e1990 Labor Market Area sample
us1930a1930 0.5% sample us2000a2000 5% sample
us1940a1940 1% sample us2000b2000 1% sample
us1950a1950 1% sample us2000c2000 Unweighted 1% sample
us1960a1960 1% sample us2000d2000 ACS sample
us1970a1970 Form 1 State sample us2001a2001 ACS sample
us1970b1970 Form 2 State sample us2002a2002 ACS sample
us1970c1970 Form 1 Metro sample us2003a2003 ACS sample
us1970d1970 Form 2 Metro sample us2004a2004 ACS sample
us1970e1970 Form 1 Neighborhood sample us2005a2005 ACS sample
us1970f1970 Form 2 Neighborhood sample us2006a2006 ACS sample

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