Consumer Expenditure Survey (Interview)

CPS (March Income Supplement)

Panel Study of Income Dynamics

Survey of Income and Program Participation

Asset Holdings Dataa

Detailed inventory of property holdings and household appliances; information at 5th interview on credit balances for current month and 1 year ago; information on financial asset holdings currently and 1 year ago

None, except ascertains home ownership

Regularly, information about home value and mortgage debt; occasionally, information about saving behavior and wealth

Detailed inventory of real and financial assets and liabilities once each panel; more frequent measures for assets relevant for assistance programs

Expenditure Data

Detailed quarterly data for expenditures estimated to account for 60–70% of total expenditures; global (or usual) quarterly data for expenditures estimated to account for another 20–25% of total


Monthly rent or mortgage costs; annual utility costs; average weekly food costs; child support payments

Information once or twice each panel on last month's out-of-pocket medical care costs, shelter costs (mortgage or rent and utilities), dependent care costs, and child support payments

a All four surveys obtain data on income flows from assets.

One problem in estimating poverty from income surveys is that they often show people with zero or very low-income amounts that are not credible. As a result, analysts often find that people with very low-incomes are not substantially worse off than people with higher income levels on such measures as ownership of vehicles, air conditioning, and number of bathrooms in their

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