CPS ASEC will be used to produce the new SPM, to which the MCRI is intended as a companion measure. Producing both measures from the same survey would enable researchers to compare and contrast how families and individuals are classified by the two measures. Such comparisons may be particularly helpful in establishing the value added to a poverty measure by the MCRI.

The CPS ASEC does have other advantages over the MEPS as the base for an MCRI. Depending on how it is defined and constructed, an MCRI based on the CPS ASEC could be released at the same time or shortly after the SPM, or 6-7 months after the completion of data collection (and 10-11 months after the end of the survey reference period). Given current production schedules, a MEPS-based measure would require an additional year.

There is a wrinkle in this assessment, however. A prospective MCRI would depend critically on data collected in MEPS, so releasing a CPS-based MCRI at the same time as the SPM would require using MEPS data from the previous year. The other significant advantage of the CPS ASEC is its sample size, which is five times that of the largest recent MEPS samples. The greater CPS ASEC sample size would support more precise estimates generally while allowing more extensive subgroup analysis. Finally, the CPS ASEC sample consists of independent, representative samples of the 50 states and the District of Columbia and, as such, can support state-level estimates, although not with satisfactory precision in every case. If the MCRI is to play an important role in monitoring the implementation of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, this property of the CPS ASEC could be invaluable.


Caswell, K.J., and O’Hara, B. (2010). Medical Out-of-Pocket Expenses, Poverty, and the Uninsured. SEHSD Working Paper 2010-17. Washington, DC: U.S. Census Bureau, Social, Economic, and Housing Division. Available: http://www.census.gov/hhes/povmeas/methodology/supplemental/research/Caswell-OHara-SGE2011.pdf.

Czajka, J.L., and Denmead, G. (2008). Income Data for Policy Analysis: A Comparative Assessment of Eight Surveys. Final report to U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Washington, DC: Mathematica Policy Research.

Czajka, J.L., and Denmead, G. (2011, August). Second Interim Memorandum: Retirement Income. Washington, DC: Mathematica Policy Research.

Czajka, J.L., Jacobson, J.E., and Cody, S. (2003, August). Survey Estimates of Wealth: A Comparative Analysis and Review of the Survey of Income and Program Participation. Washington, DC: Mathematica Policy Research.

Davern, M. (2010, June). Unstable Ground: Comparing Health Insurance Estimates from National Surveys. Paper prepared for the Workshop on Evaluating Databases for Estimating Health Insurance Coverage for Children, Committee on National Statistics, National Research Council, Washington, DC.

The National Academies | 500 Fifth St. N.W. | Washington, D.C. 20001
Copyright © National Academy of Sciences. All rights reserved.
Terms of Use and Privacy Statement