Harmonized Census Geography and Spatio-Temporal Analysis: Gender Equality and Empowerment of Women in Africa
Sula Sarkar, University of Minnesota
Lara Cleveland, University of Minnesota
Majory K. Silisyene, University of Minnesota
Matthew Sobek, University of Minnesota
Changes in administrative boundaries pose major challenges for spatio-temporal population research. Researchers interested in change over time need to hold space constant to study contextual or spatial effects on behaviors and outcomes. Boundary changes risk polluting their analyses with artifacts that obscure real changes that may have occurred. This paper describes the method by which spatially consistent geographic units have been constructed in the IPUMS-International census data collection for dozens of countries over a fifty year period. We illustrate the utility of spatially consistent units by exploring progress toward UN Millennium Development Goals in a number of African countries at low levels of geography: specifically the goals to "promote gender equality and empower women." The analysis shows progress towards goals, but the pattern of growth differs markedly both across and within countries. We show how the use of harmonized geographic units facilitates comparative metrics.