Building the Comprehensive Income Dataset to Create Highly Accurate Evidence on Disadvantage

Forthcoming chapter in Brookings Institution volume, Build Me the Evidence

Summarizes how the CID is improving our understanding of disadvantage in the United States, and how this evidence lays the foundation for policymakers and practitioners building evidence-based solutions to improve the outcomes of disadvantaged Americans.


The Size and Census Coverage of the U.S. Homeless Population

Journal of Urban Economics (2023)

Links restricted data sources largely unused to study homelessness with homeless count estimates to show that on a given night, about 600,000 people experience homelessness in the United States, with about two-thirds in shelters. This paper lays the foundation for path-breaking future work with these data on the U.S. homeless population.


Consumption and Income Inequality in the United States Since the 1960s

Journal of Political Economy (2023)

CID shows that while overall income inequality rose over the past 5 decades, the rise in overall consumption inequality was small, likely due to the declining quality of income data and asset price changes.


The Change in Poverty from 1995 to 2016 Among Single Parent Families

AEA Papers and Proceedings (2022)

Using survey data and individual tax records, CID estimates poverty fell by 62 percent among single-parent families in the two decades after welfare reform in 1996, evidence that correcting for under-reported incomes can substantially change poverty patterns over time.


Errors in Survey Reporting and Imputation and Their Effects on Estimates of Food Stamp Program Participation

Journal of Human Resources (2022)

Linking administrative data with survey reports, CID shows that between 23 and 50 percent of food stamp recipient households are missing from survey reports, and that surveys understate program participation among single parents, nonwhites, and low-income households.


The Accuracy of Tax Imputations: Estimating Tax Liabilities and Credits Using Linked Survey and Administrative Data

Measuring and Understanding the Distribution and Intra/Inter-Generational Mobility of Income and Wealth (2022, NBER book chapter)

Brings extremely detailed tax records into the CID to show that widely used survey-based estimates of taxes owed by families are off by almost $10,000 on average, evidence that CID-based research will heavily impact our understanding of income and poverty in the U.S.


An Empirical Total Survey Error Decomposition Using Data Combination

Journal of Econometrics (2021)

Decomposes the error in mean survey reports of government benefits into the sources of survey errors.


The Use and Misuse of Income Data and Extreme Poverty in the United States

Journal of Labor Economics (2021)

CID shows that no more than 1 in every 900 Americans and essentially no children live on less than $2 per day, overturning widely cited survey-based estimate that 3.6 million children live in extreme poverty in the U.S.


Income and Poverty in the COVID-19 Pandemic

Brookings Papers on Economic Activity (2020)

Establishes methods to measure poverty on a near real-time basis, validates the measure using public use data, and examines the role that policy played in reducing poverty early in the COVID-19 pandemic.


Using Linked Survey and Administrative Data to Better Measure Income: Implications for Poverty, Program Effectiveness and Holes in the Safety Net

American Economic Journal: Applied Economics (2019)

Examines how the under-reporting of transfers exaggerates the share below the poverty line and other income cutoffs, exaggerates the share missed by government programs, and understates the effectiveness of government programs.


Linking Survey and Administrative Data to Measure Income, Inequality and Mobility

International Journal of Population Data Science (2019)

Documents how the CID Project will transform our understanding of poverty, income and well-being by linking surveys, tax records and administrative program data in the most comprehensive and systematic way ever done in the U.S.


The Poverty Reduction of Social Security and Means-Tested Transfers

Industrial and Labor Relations Review (2018)

Inaugural CID project demonstrating the power of the CID to change our understanding of the poverty-reducing effects of social insurance and means-tested transfer programs, finds largest under-reporting effects for single-parent families.


Working Papers

Life and Death at the Margins of Society: The Mortality of the U.S. Homeless Population

NBER Working Paper (2023)

Leveraging the largest sample ever used to study the population of sheltered and unsheltered homeless, this study shows that the well-documented gradient between health and poverty persists into the extreme lower tail of socioeconomic disadvantage.


What Leads to Measurement Errors? Evidence from Reports of Program Participation in Three Surveys

NBER Working Paper (2022)

Studies the determinants of reporting error, providing insight for survey users to gauge the reliability of their data and devise estimation strategies that can correct for systematic errors.


Changes in the Distribution of Economic Well-Being during the COVID-19 Pandemic: Evidence from Nationally Representative Consumption Data

NBER Working Paper (2022)

The first work to study the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on economic well-being using nationally representative consumption data. CID’s results suggest that the policy response to the pandemic averted a decrease in consumption for the most materially disadvantaged families.


The Change in Poverty from 1995 to 2016 Among Single Parent Families (Long Version)

NBER Working Paper (2022)

Using survey data and individual tax records, CID estimates poverty fell by 62 percent among single-parent families in the two decades after welfare reform in 1996, evidence that correcting for under-reported incomes can substantially change poverty patterns over time.


The Anti-Poverty, Targeting, and Labor Supply Effects of Replacing a Child Tax Credit with a Child Allowance

NBER Working Paper (2021)

Current proposals to expand the Child Tax Credit would reduce employment by 1.5 million people and, as a result, reduce child poverty by only 22%—more than a third lower than estimates that fail to account for employment reductions—and fail to reduce deep child poverty at all.


Learning about Homelessness Using Linked Survey and Administrative Data

NBER Working Paper (2021)

First ever study to examine the characteristics, labor market attachment, geographic mobility, earnings, and safety net utilization of the homeless population at the national level using administrative data on income and government program receipt.


Errors in Reporting and Imputation of Government Benefits and Their Implications

NBER Working Paper (2021)

By linking surveys to administrative program data from New York, finds high rate of misreporting in surveys of transfer program receipt and that imputation of program receipt does not solve the problem.


Does Geographically Adjusting Poverty Thresholds Improve Poverty Measurement and Program Targeting?

Working Paper (2021)

Using material well-being indicators from household surveys, CID shows incorporating a geographic adjustment identifies a less deprived poor population for most domains of well-being indicators.


Certification and Recertification in Welfare Programs: What Happens When Automation Goes Wrong?

Working Paper (2021)

Leveraging a unique natural experiment in Indiana in which the IBM Corporation remotely processed applications for two- thirds of all counties, shows that SNAP, TANF, and Medicaid enrollments fall by 15%, 24%, and 4% one year after automation.



The Reporting of Unemployment Insurance and Unemployment in Survey and Administrative Sources


The Income and Safety Net Participation of the U.S. Homeless Population


The Causal Effect of Medicaid on Mortality: New Evidence from the Universe of Low-Income Adults


Race, Ethnicity, and Measurement Error

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