IDEAS home Printed from
MyIDEAS: Log in (now much improved!) to save this paper

Measuring Employment and Income for Low-Income Populations with Administrative and Survey Data

Listed author(s):
  • V. J. Hotz
  • J. K. Scholz

We discuss the strengths and weaknesses of income and employment data in national surveys, in unemployment insurance (UI) wage records, and in tax returns. The CPS, SIPP, NLS, and PSID surveys provide valuable information on the behavior of the low-income population. They have broad and fairly accurate measures of income for national samples, and their focus on families as the unit of analysis and their ease of access greatly enhance their value. The value of these data sets for evaluating welfare reform is severely limited, however. With the devolution of responsibility for TANF, the CPS and SIPP sampling frames and sample sizes mean that, at best, they can be only supplementary data sources for understanding the effects of welfare reform at the state and local levels. The apparent decline in program coverage in the CPS is also worrisome. UI data are available at the state level and can be matched to individuals in existing samples at relatively low cost. It is straightforward to do follow-up analyses on income and employment for workers who remain in the state, and UI data are timely. However, earnings are available only for individuals, while changes in family composition upon exit from welfare have been shown to have a large bearing on economic well-being. UI data do not allow us to track these changes. There also appears to be a substantial problem with some workers being classified as independent contractors and hence not entering the UI system. Overall gaps in coverage appear to be at least 13 percent and may be significantly higher. Even when wages are reported, there is some evidence that they are understated by a significant amount. We also present evidence on the degree to which tax data can be used to understand the incomes and employment of low-skilled workers. The paper concludes with brief recommendations for future research that might help fill some of the gaps we have identified.

If you experience problems downloading a file, check if you have the proper application to view it first. In case of further problems read the IDEAS help page. Note that these files are not on the IDEAS site. Please be patient as the files may be large.

File URL:
Download Restriction: no

Paper provided by University of Wisconsin Institute for Research on Poverty in its series Institute for Research on Poverty Discussion Papers with number 1224-01.

in new window

Date of creation:
Handle: RePEc:wop:wispod:1224-01
Contact details of provider: Postal:
3412 Social Science Building, 1180 Observatory Drive, Madison, WI 53706

Phone: (608) 262-6358
Fax: (608) 265-3119
Web page:

More information through EDIRC

References listed on IDEAS
Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:

in new window

  1. Katharine G. Abraham & James R. Spletzer & Jay C. Stewart, 1998. "Divergent Trends in Alternative Wage Series," NBER Chapters,in: Labor Statistics Measurement Issues, pages 293-325 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Blakemore, Arthur E, et al, 1996. "Employer Tax Evasion in the Unemployment Insurance Program," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 14(2), pages 210-230, April.
  3. Carolyn J. Hill & V. Joseph Hotz & Charles H. Mullin & John Karl Scholz, 1999. "EITC Eligibility, Participation, and Compliance Rates for AFDC Households: Evidence from the California Caseload," JCPR Working Papers 102, Northwestern University/University of Chicago Joint Center for Poverty Research.
  4. Daniel H. Weinberg, 1999. "Fifty Years of U.S. Income Data from the Current Population Survey: Alternatives, Trends, and Quality," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 89(2), pages 18-22, May.
  5. Greenberg, David & Halsey, Harlan, 1983. "Systematic Misreporting and Effects of Income Maintenance Experiments on Work Effort: Evidence from the Seattle-Denver Experiment," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 1(4), pages 380-407, October.
Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

This item is not listed on Wikipedia, on a reading list or among the top items on IDEAS.

When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:wop:wispod:1224-01. 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: (Thomas Krichel)

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 references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.

If the full references list an item that is present in RePEc, but the system did not link 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 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.

This information is provided to you by IDEAS at the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis using RePEc data.