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Income Data for Policy Analysis: A Comparative Assessment of Eight Surveys

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  • John L. Czajka
  • Gabrielle Denmead
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    Abstract

    Income is a critical classification variable for policy-related analyses, and together with poverty status is often key in the development of public policy. Most federal household surveys collect some income data and provide measures of poverty status. Yet income is difficult to measure in household surveys, and poverty status depends not only on income but on how a family is defined, which differs across surveys. Mathematica conducted a comprehensive and systematic assessment of income data and their utility for policy-related analyses in eight major surveys: the Survey of Income and Program Participation (SIPP); the Annual Social and Economic Supplement to the Current Population Survey (CPS); the American Community Survey (ACS); the Household Component of the Medical Expenditure Panel Survey (MEPS); the National Health Interview Survey (NHIS); the Medicare Current Beneficiary Survey Cost and Use files (MCBS); the Health and Retirement Study (HRS); and the Panel Study of Income Dynamics (PSID). The assessment focused on three issues: (1) quality and usability of each survey’s income and poverty data for policy-related analyses; (2) overall impact of different design and methodological approaches; and (3) specific design and processing choices that may be related to the quality and utility of income and poverty data in each survey. Detailed findings address not only the measurement of income and poverty but other survey features that affect estimates of income and its distribution.

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    Bibliographic Info

    Paper provided by Mathematica Policy Research in its series Mathematica Policy Research Reports with number 6195.

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    Length: 416
    Date of creation: 23 Dec 2008
    Date of revision:
    Handle: RePEc:mpr:mprres:6195

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    Postal: Mathematica Policy Research P.O. Box 2393 Princeton, NJ 08543-2393 Attn: Communications
    Fax: (609) 799-0005
    Web page: http://www.mathematica-mpr.com/
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    Related research

    Keywords: Income Data; Policy analysis; comparative Assessment;

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    References

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    1. Arie Kapteyn & Pierre-Carl Michaud & James P. Smith & Arthur van Soest, 2006. "Effects of Attrition and Non-Response in the Health and Retirement Study," Working Papers 407, RAND Corporation Publications Department.
    2. John Fitzgerald & Peter Gottschalk & Robert Moffitt, 1998. "An Analysis of Sample Attrition in Panel Data: The Michigan Panel Study of Income Dynamics," NBER Technical Working Papers 0220, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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    Cited by:
    1. Bruce D. Meyer & Wallace K. C. Mok & James X. Sullivan, 2009. "The Under-Reporting of Transfers in Household Surveys: Its Nature and Consequences," Working Papers 0903, Harris School of Public Policy Studies, University of Chicago.

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