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Income Surveys (United States): Home

Comparing CPS, SIPP, PSID

This is an update of a chart originally found on the Census Bureau web site.

  Current Population Survey (CPS) (March Income Supplement) Survey of Income and Program Participation (SIPP) Panel Study of Income Dynamics (PSID)
Source Bureau of Labor Statistics Census Bureau Institute for Social Research
Sample size  60,000 households; (households rotate out)  14,000 to ~40,000 households; (new panels created periodically). ~8,000 families; (over- represents low-income families; adds descendant households). 
Sample design Cross-sectional Longitudinal. Longitudinal.
Date began 1940

1983 (data begins with 1984)

Predecessor program (1977-1981) was Income Survey Development Program (ISDP).

Frequency Monthly (Base + supplements¹) Continuing Annual (1968-1996); Biennial (1997 to present)
Documentation BLS Handbook of Methods, chapt. 1; CPS Topics Index

Technical Documentation; Questionnaires;
Topic Modules Chart




Sample designed to be representative within states?


Yes No No
Income data Data for prior calendar year for about 35 cash and in-kind Sources Data for about 70 cash and in-kind Sources at each 4- month wave, with monthly reporting for most Sources Data for prior calendar year for about 25 cash and in-kind Sources with specific months received
Tax data None Information to determine federal, state, and local income taxes; payroll taxes; property taxes Information to determine federal, state, and local income taxes; payroll taxes; property taxes
Asset-holdings data None, except home ownership Detailed inventory of real and financial assets and liabilities; more frequent measures for assets relevant for assistance programs Information about home value and mortgage debt; occasional information about saving behavior and wealth
Expenditure data None Information on previous month’s out-of-pocket medical care costs, shelter costs (mortgage or rent and utilities), dependent care costs, and child support payments