Research teams in the United States, Britain, Canada, Iceland, Norway, and Sweden have worked in close coordination to create the North Atlantic Population Project (NAPP), a massive integrated cross-national microdatabase that provides a baseline for studies of demographic change and opens fresh paths for spatiotemporal data analysis. We now propose improvements that will multiply the power of the NAPP infrastructure. We have three major aims: (1) Triple the size of the database to approximately 365 million records, adding 40 new datasets for the period 1787 to 1930 from Albania, Britain, Canada, Denmark, Egypt, Iceland, Ireland, Germany, Norway, Mexico, Sweden, and the United States. (2) Leverage our innovative record-linkage technology to create linked national panels that will allow expanded longitudinal analyses. (3) Connect the past to the present by merging NAPP with the Integrated Public Use Microdata Series (IPUMS), simplifying analysis of long-run change and ensuring long-run preservation and maintenance of the database. The landscape of scientific research on the human population is shifting. It is no longer sufficient just to study the relationships among variables at a particular moment in time. Researchers around the world now recognize that to understand the large-scale processes that are transforming society, we must investigate long-term change. The goal of this project is to provide the infrastructure to make such analysis possible. NAPP will make a strategic contribution to demographic infrastructure by providing a baseline for the study of changes in the demography and health of European and North American populations. In each country, NAPP provides the earliest census microdata available. Models and descriptions based on historical experience underlie both theories of past change and projections into the future. The NAPP data provide a unique laboratory for the study of economic and demographic processes;this kind of empirical foundation is essential for testing social and economic theory. The proposed work will be carried out by a team of highly-skilled researchers with unparalleled expertise and experience in data integration and record linkage. Collaborators include leading researchers from the University of Minnesota and the Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research, and local experts from each of the participating countries. Centralized support for international collaboration will leverage the investments of each country and allow us to create an extraordinary resource for comparative social and economic research.

Public Health Relevance

The North Atlantic Population Project (NAPP) provides fundamental infrastructure for scientific research, education, and policy-making and will allow social scientists to make comparisons across Northern Europe, the Mediterranean, and North America during three centuries of transformative change. The proposed work is directly relevant to the central mission of the NIH as the steward of medical and behavioral research for the nation: the new data will advance fundamental knowledge about the nature and behavior of human population dynamics. NAPP will unlock access to some of the largest and longest-running cross-sectional and longitudinal data sources in the world, and stimulate health-related research on population growth and movement, fertility, mortality, nuptiality, and family change, as well as the economic and social correlates of demographic behavior.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health & Human Development (NICHD)
Research Project (R01)
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Social Sciences and Population Studies Study Section (SSPS)
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Bures, Regina M
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University of Minnesota Twin Cities
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United States
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Ruggles, Steven (2014) Big microdata for population research. Demography 51:287-97
Ruggles, Steven (2011) Intergenerational Coresidence and Family Transitions in the United States, 1850 - 1880. J Marriage Fam 73:138-148
Ruggles, Steven; Roberts, Evan; Sarkar, Sula et al. (2011) The North Atlantic Population Project: Progress and Prospects. Hist Methods 44:1-6
Ruggles, Steven (2009) Reconsidering the Northwest European Family System: Living Arrangements of the Aged in Comparative Historical Perspective. Popul Dev Rev 35:249-273