IDEAS home Printed from https://ideas.repec.org/p/aei/rpaper/862403.html
   My bibliography  Save this paper

Using linked survey and administrative data to better measure income: Implications for poverty, program effectiveness and holes in the safety net

Author

Listed:
  • Bruce D. Meyer

    (American Enterprise Institute)

  • Nikolas Mittag

Abstract

We examine the consequences of underreporting of transfer programs in household survey data for several prototypical analyses of low-income populations. We focus on the Current Population Survey (CPS), the source of official poverty and inequality statistics, but provide evidence that our qualitative conclusions are likely to apply to other surveys. We link administrative data for food stamps, TANF, General Assistance, and subsidized housing from New York State to the CPS at the individual level. Program receipt in the CPS is missed for over one-third of housing assistance recipients, 40 percent of food stamp recipients and 60 percent of TANF and General Assistance recipients. Dollars of benefits are also undercounted for reporting recipients, particularly for TANF, General Assistance and housing assistance. We find that the survey data sharply understate the income of poor households, as conjectured in past work by one of the authors. Underreporting in the survey data also greatly understates the effects of anti-poverty programs and changes our understanding of program targeting, often making it seem that welfare programs are less targeted to both the very poorest and middle income households than they are. Using the combined data rather than survey data alone, the poverty reducing effect of all programs together is nearly doubled while the effect of housing assistance is tripled. We also re-examine the coverage of the safety net, specifically the share of people without work or program receipt. Using the administrative measures of program receipt rather than the survey ones often reduces the share of single mothers falling through the safety net by one-half or more.

Suggested Citation

  • Bruce D. Meyer & Nikolas Mittag, 2015. "Using linked survey and administrative data to better measure income: Implications for poverty, program effectiveness and holes in the safety net," AEI Economics Working Papers 862403, American Enterprise Institute.
  • Handle: RePEc:aei:rpaper:862403
    as

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL: http://www.aei.org/publication/using-linked-survey-and-administrative-data-to-better-measure-income-implications-for-poverty-program-effectiveness-and-holes-in-the-safety-net
    Download Restriction: no

    Other versions of this item:

    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Marianne Bitler & Hilary Hoynes, 2016. "The More Things Change, the More They Stay the Same? The Safety Net and Poverty in the Great Recession," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 34(S1), pages 403-444.
    2. Marianne P. Bitler & Hilary W. Hoynes, 2010. "The State of Social Safety Net in the Post-Welfare Reform Era," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 41(2 (Fall)), pages 71-147.
    3. Arie Kapteyn & Jelmer Y. Ypma, 2007. "Measurement Error and Misclassification: A Comparison of Survey and Administrative Data," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 25, pages 513-551.
    4. Bollinger, Christopher R, 1998. "Measurement Error in the Current Population Survey: A Nonparametric Look," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 16(3), pages 576-594, July.
    5. Hilary W. Hoynes & Marianne E. Page & Ann Huff Stevens, 2006. "Poverty in America: Trends and Explanations," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 20(1), pages 47-68, Winter.
    6. Christopher R. Bollinger & Barry T. Hirsch, 2006. "Match Bias from Earnings Imputation in the Current Population Survey: The Case of Imperfect Matching," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 24(3), pages 483-520, July.
    7. Scherpf, Erik & Newman, Constance & Prell, Mark, 2014. "Targeting of Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program Benefits: Evidence from the ACS and NY SNAP Administrative Records," 2014 Annual Meeting, July 27-29, 2014, Minneapolis, Minnesota 174295, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association.
    8. Ravallion, Martin, 1996. "Issues in Measuring and Modelling Poverty," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 106(438), pages 1328-1343, September.
    9. Black, Dan & Sanders, Seth & Taylor, Lowell, 2003. "Measurement of Higher Education in the Census and Current Population Survey," Journal of the American Statistical Association, American Statistical Association, vol. 98, pages 545-554, January.
    10. Robert Moffitt & John Karl Scholz, 2010. "Trends in the Level and Distribution of Income Support," NBER Chapters, in: Tax Policy and the Economy, Volume 24, pages 111-152, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    11. Bruce D. Meyer & Wallace K. C. Mok & James X. Sullivan, 2015. "Household Surveys in Crisis," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 29(4), pages 199-226, Fall.
    12. John M. Abowd & Martha H. Stinson, 2013. "Estimating Measurement Error in Annual Job Earnings: A Comparison of Survey and Administrative Data," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 95(5), pages 1451-1467, December.
    13. Philip Armour & Richard V. Burkhauser & Jeff Larrimore, 2013. "Deconstructing Income and Income Inequality Measures: A Crosswalk from Market Income to Comprehensive Income," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 103(3), pages 173-177, May.
    14. Molly Dahl & Thomas DeLeire & Jonathan A. Schwabish, 2011. "Estimates of Year-to-Year Volatility in Earnings and in Household Incomes from Administrative, Survey, and Matched Data," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 46(4), pages 750-774.
    15. repec:mpr:mprres:6980 is not listed on IDEAS
    16. Poterba, James M & Summers, Lawrence H, 1986. "Reporting Errors and Labor Market Dynamics," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 54(6), pages 1319-1338, November.
    17. Bound, John & Brown, Charles & Mathiowetz, Nancy, 2001. "Measurement error in survey data," Handbook of Econometrics, in: J.J. Heckman & E.E. Leamer (ed.), Handbook of Econometrics, edition 1, volume 5, chapter 59, pages 3705-3843, Elsevier.
    18. Bound, John & Krueger, Alan B, 1991. "The Extent of Measurement Error in Longitudinal Earnings Data: Do Two Wrongs Make a Right?," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 9(1), pages 1-24, January.
    19. Yonatan Ben-Shalom & Robert A. Moffitt & John Karl Scholz, "undated". "An Assessment of the Effectiveness of Anti-Poverty Programs in the United States," Mathematica Policy Research Reports cfc848ed6ab647bcb38ab47bb, Mathematica Policy Research.
    20. repec:taf:jnlbes:v:30:y:2012:i:2:p:191-201 is not listed on IDEAS
    21. Bruce Meyer & Nikolas Mittag, 2013. "Misclassification In Binary Choice Models," Working Papers 13-27, Center for Economic Studies, U.S. Census Bureau.
    22. Wooldridge, Jeffrey M., 2007. "Inverse probability weighted estimation for general missing data problems," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 141(2), pages 1281-1301, December.
    23. Erik Meijer & Susann Rohwedder & Tom Wansbeek, 2011. "Measurement Error in Earnings Data: Using a Mixture Model Approach to Combine Survey and Register Data," Journal of Business & Economic Statistics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 30(2), pages 191-201, February.
    24. Lesley J. Turner & Sheldon Danziger & Kristin S. Seefeldt, 2006. "Failing the Transition from Welfare to Work: Women Chronically Disconnected from Employment and Cash Welfare," Social Science Quarterly, Southwestern Social Science Association, vol. 87(2), pages 227-249, June.
    25. Nikolas Mittag, 2013. "A Method Of Correcting For Misreporting Applied To The Food Stamp Program," Working Papers 13-28, Center for Economic Studies, U.S. Census Bureau.
    26. Bruce D. Meyer & James X. Sullivan, 2012. "Identifying the Disadvantaged: Official Poverty, Consumption Poverty, and the New Supplemental Poverty Measure," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 26(3), pages 111-136, Summer.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    More about this item

    Keywords

    poverty studies; Poverty; safety net; income;

    JEL classification:

    • A - General Economics and Teaching

    Statistics

    Access and download statistics

    Corrections

    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:aei:rpaper:862403. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Dave Adams, CIO). General contact details of provider: http://edirc.repec.org/data/aeiiius.html .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    If CitEc recognized a reference but did not link an item in RePEc to it, you can help with this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.