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Measuring Income and Poverty in Four Surveys: an Overview

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Policy makers use national surveys to paint a picture of the U.S. population along a variety of dimensions. If major surveys are equally successful in capturing income, then, for the same time period, populations and income types, consistently defined income estimates and poverty rates across surveys will be highly similar — varying somewhat due to sampling error. This paper constructs comparable measures of income and poverty and examines whether the same picture of the U.S. population is presented by four major Federal Surveys: the Annual Social and Demographic Supplement to the Current Population Survey (CPS), the Survey of Income and Program Participation (SIPP), the Medical Expenditure Panel Survey Houselhold Component (MEPS), and the National Heallth Interview Survey (NHIS).