Income Data for Policy Analysis: A Comparative Assessment of Eight Surveys. COMPARISONS ACROSS DESIGN, DEFINITIONAL AND METHODOLOGICAL ISSUES


Collectively, the eight surveys reflect a number of different choices with respect to design, definitions, and methodology that have implications, potentially, for the measurement of income. Cross-survey comparisons of the kind presented in Chapter IV tell us little about the impact of such choices because (1) the survey designs differ along multiple dimensions and (2) the impact of differences with respect to field procedures, editing, and other aspects of post-survey processing cannot be removed from the estimates that are being compared. To isolate the impact of individual design, definitional, or methodological features, we turn to simulations conducted within individual surveys. This has the advantage of neutralizing the impact of any design or field differences outside of those being evaluated. In this chapter we use this approach to examine the impact of family definition and relationship detail, how surveys deal with the dynamics of family composition, issues raised by rolling samples, the treatment of retirement income, and the use of income as a component of post-stratification. All five of the general population surveys contribute to these simulations, with different surveys called on to address different survey features.

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