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2018 IUSSP Laureate Ceremony for Robert Bob McCaa at the PAA annual meeting in Denver, Colorado on Wednesday 25 April.

 

 

IUSSP President, Tom LeGrand, presented the Laureate Award to Robert McCaa in front of an audience of friends and colleagues. The award recognizes Bob McCaa’s singular role in the development of IPUMS-International Census Micro data and its inestimable contribution to research on population trends and dynamics.  The ceremony began with a session organized by David Lam featuring Albert Estève and Steve Ruggles, co-sponsors of Bob McCaa’s nomination.

 

Albert Estève recounted with humor Bob’s early career as a demographic historian focusing Latin America and since 1996, his mission to secure the world’s micro-census data.

 

 

Through photos, Albert Estève illustrated Bob McCaa’s tireless efforts and the diplomatic and salesmanship skills he applied to persuade over 100 statistical offices around the world to entrust their census micro data to IPUMs. 


On a more serious note, Steve Ruggles reviewed the impact this work has had on population studies and the social sciences. In 2018 IPUMS will have microdata on over a billion individuals residing in 100 different countries. This data has been harmonized and made available to researchers from around the globe seeking to understand large scale population trends. 

 

More than 20,000 investigators have created 75,000 customized datasets, often pooling data from multiple censuses. The IPUMS online data analysis tool is used about 100 times a day, and on average a new publication using these data appears every 28 hours. Bob McCaa’s efforts have also salvaged damaged census data that would have otherwise been irrevocably lost. Many countries turn to IPUMS to retrieve entrusted census micro-data that has since been lost or damaged in national archives. 

 

After the presentation of the award, several stepped forward from the audience to give tribute to Bob McCaa’s career including his wife, Wanda, David Reher, and Ron Lee. The ceremony ended with thanks by Bob who noted how lucky he was to have embarked on this effort at a time when the tools were available to process and harmonize census micro data. He noted that recent data scandals with Facebook and others that have heightened concerns about personal data security would likely make it far more difficult to convince statistical offices to entrust census micro-data from the 2020 round of censuses; it will require continuous efforts to ensure that future census data will be made available for research. 

 

 

Bob McCaa through his perseverance and personal charm has contributed to an  invaluable resource that enable’s social scientists to better study powerful large-scale trends such as economic development, urbanization, fertility transition, migration, population aging, and mass education.  

 

For the full nomination letter go to https://iussp.org/en/laureate-2018-bob-mccaa

 

If you are interested in nominating a colleague for the 2019 Laureate Award, the deadline for the submission of nominations will be 1 November 2018. Instructions are available at https://iussp.org/en/laureate-award-2019-call-nominations

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