Feature

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

None

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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