Journal of Population Research

, Volume 35, Issue 4, pp 467–498 | Cite as

Foreign-born and native-born migration in the U.S.: evidence from linked IRS administrative and census survey records

  • Thomas B. FosterEmail author
  • Mark J. Ellis
  • Lee Fiorio


This paper details efforts to link administrative records from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) to American Community Survey (ACS) and 2010 Census microdata for the study of migration among foreign-born and native-born populations in the United States. Specifically, we (1) document our linkage strategy and methodology for inferring migration in IRS records; (2) model selection into and survival across IRS records to determine suitability for research applications; and (3) gauge the efficacy of the IRS records by demonstrating how they can be used to validate and potentially improve migration responses for native-born and foreign-born respondents in ACS microdata. Our results show little evidence of selection or survival bias in the IRS records, suggesting broad generalizability to the nation as a whole. Moreover, we find that the combined IRS 1040, 1099, and W2 records may provide important information on populations, such as the foreign-born, that may be difficult to reach with traditional Census Bureau surveys. Finally, the results of our comparison of IRS and ACS migration responses show that IRS records may be useful in improving ACS migration measurement for respondents whose migration response is proxy, allocated, or imputed. Taking these results together, we discuss the potential application of our longitudinal IRS dataset to innovations in migration research on both the native-born and foreign-born populations of the United States.


Administrative records Migration Immigration Nativity 

Supplementary material

12546_2018_9215_MOESM1_ESM.xlsx (18 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (XLSX 17 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature B.V. 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.U.S. Census Bureau, Center for Administrative Records Research and ApplicationsSuitlandUSA
  2. 2.Department of Geography and Center for Studies in Demography and EcologyUniversity of WashingtonSeattleUSA

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