This blog is intended to go along with Population: An Introduction to Concepts and Issues, by John R. Weeks, published by Cengage Learning. The latest edition is the 13th (it will be out in January 2020), but this blog is meant to complement any edition of the book by showing the way in which demographic issues are regularly in the news.

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Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Professor Bob McCaa to be Honored at Population Meetings

Robert (Bob) McCaa is Research Professor at the University of Minnesota and has made extremely important contributions to demographic research over the years. Those contributions are being recognized this year by his selection as Laureate 2018 of the International Union for the Scientific Study of Population (IUSSP) and he will be honored at this year's annual meeting of the Population Association of America (PAA) in Denver in April. Here are some excerpts from his nomination letter to remind you of his accomplishments:
From the early 1970s to the late 1990s, McCaa’s work focused mainly on Latin American historical demography. He produced classic articles on marriage and fertility in 18th and 19th century Chile and Mexico, the role of smallpox in the demographic catastrophe of the 16th century, paleodemography, the demographic impact of the Mexican Revolution, and the household composition of the Nahua (Aztec) of ancient Mexico.
You will find references to this line of research in several places in my text, of course. And then:
In the mid-1990s, McCaa had an idea that shifted the trajectory of his career and profoundly affected the field of population studies. He had been working on the IPUMS project, which was then a harmonized series of microdata samples from nine U.S. decennial censuses. With harmonized codes, consistent record layouts, and integrated documentation, IPUMS greatly simplified use of the microdata for analyzing long-run demographic change. 
McCaa had a radical idea: IPUMS should be expanded to cover international censuses...Eventually McCaa transformed the terrain of international census microdata research by persuading over 100 statistical offices to allow their census microdata to be disseminated by a third party. Remarkably, all these countries agreed to a single standard license with no special conditions for access beyond the standard approval process conducted by IPUMS. The project, which has been continuously supported by both NSF and NICHD since 1999, is now the largest microdata archive in the world. IPUMS-International disseminates data from 303 censuses of 83 countries, with a combined total of 631 million records. By 2018, IPUMS expects to be distributing microdata on over a billion individuals residing in 100 different countries.
I am one of the thousands of people whose research has benefitted from this amazing database. If you aren't familiar with it, there's no time like now to explore the IPUMS International resources. Thanks, Bob! 

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