Ruggles, a historical demographer, received his Ph.D in history from the University of Pennsylvania in 1984. He is best known as the creator of the Integrated Public Use Microdata Series (IPUMS), the world's largest population database. In 1995, Ruggles was described as the "King of Quant" by Wired Magazine. Ruggles has made important contributions to the study of long run demographic changes, focusing especially on changes in the family. His study of the effects of demographic change on family structure  won the William J. Goode Book Award from the American Sociological Association and the Allen Sharlen Memorial Award from the Social Science History Association. Ruggles's work on migration censoring in family reconstitution  led to an extended debate about biases introduced by the "Ruggles Effect."  The method Ruggles proposed for correcting censoring bias in family reconstitution estimates of mortality was eventually determined to be more accurate than any of the alternative techniques that have been proposed.
In 2003, Ruggles received the Robert J. Lapham Award from the Population Association of America in recognition of lifetime contributions that blend research with the application of demographic knowledge to policy issues, and in 2009 he received the Warren E. Miller Award from the Inter-university Consortium for Political and Social Research for meritorious service to the social sciences. He served as the 2015 President of the Population Association of America, the first historian to hold the position.
- Ruggles, Steven (1987). Prolonged Connections: The Rise of the Extended Family in Nineteenth-Century England and America. Madison: University of Wisconsin Press. pp. xx,282. ISBN 0-299-11030-3.
- Ruggles, Steven. The Future of Historical Family Demography. Annual Review of Sociology vol. 38 (2012), pp. 423–441
- Ruggles, Steven. Reconsidering the Northwest European Family System. Population and Development Review, vol. 35 (2009), pp. 321–332
- Ruggles, Steven. The Decline of Intergenerational Coresidence in the United States, 1850 to 2000. American Sociological Review, vol. 72 (2007), pp. 962–989
- Ruggles, Steven. The Rise of Divorce and Separation in the United States, 1880-1990. Demography, vol. 34 (1997), pp. 962–989
- Ruggles, Steven. The Transformation of American Family Structure. American Historical Review, vol. 99 (1994), pp. 103–128
- Ruggles, Steven. The Origins of African-American Family Structure. American Sociological Review, vol. 59 (1994), pp. 136–151
- Ruggles, Steven. Migration, Marriage, and Mortality: Correcting Sources of Bias in English Family Reconstitutions. Population Studies, vol. 46 (1992), pp. 507–522
- University of Minnesota (2010-06-03). "Steven Ruggles: College of Liberal Arts: U of M". Apps.cla.umn.edu. Retrieved 2011-12-23.
- Rettig, Hillary. "The King of Quant". Wired.com. Retrieved 2011-12-23.
- Steven Ruggles (1987). Prolonged Connections: The Rise of the Extended Family in Nineteenth Century England and America (PDF). Madison: University of Wisconsin Press. ISBN 0-299-11034-6.
- Steven Ruggles, "Migration, Marriage, and Mortality: Correcting Sources of Bias in English Family Reconstitutions," Population Studies vol. 46 (1992) pp. 507-522
- E.A. Wrigley, "The Effect of Migration on the Estimation of Marriage Age in Family Reconstitution Studies," Population Studies vol. 48 (1994) pp. 81-97; Alice Bee Kasakoff and John W. Adams, “The Effect of migration on Ages at Vital Events: A Critique of Family Reconstitution in Historical Demography” European Journal of Population 11 (1995), pp. 199-242; B. Desjardins, “Bias in Age at Marriage in Family Reconstitutions: Evidence from French-Canadian data.” Population Studies 49 (1995) 165–169; E. Voland and R.I.M. Dunbar, “The Impact of Social Status and Migration on Female Age at Marriage in an Historical Population in North-West Germany.” Journal of Biosocial Science 29(1997), pp. 355-360; Steven Ruggles “The Limitations of English Family Reconstitution.” Continuity and Change 14 (1999) 105-130.
- M. A. Jonker and A. W. van der Vaart, “Correcting Missing-Data Bias in Historical Demography” Population Studies vol. 61 (2007) pp. 99-114
- "Robert J. Lapham Award - Population Association of America". Popassoc.org. Retrieved 2011-12-23.
- "Warren E. Miller Award". icpsr.umich.edu. Retrieved 2013-01-18.
- Norling, Lisa (June 22, 2014). "Steve Ruggles to Head the Population Association of America". College of Liberal Arts. University of Minnesota. Retrieved May 25, 2015.