Income Data for Policy Analysis: A Comparative Assessment of Eight Surveys. Frequency of allocation


All eight surveys that are included in this study employ one or more methods of allocation to fill in missing values for income. We can quantify how much of the income data are allocated, how this varies by source, and how the amount of imputation varies across the income distribution, and we do so for the five general population surveys in this section.59 We can also quantify the alternative types of allocation used, and we do so in the next section, albeit very broadly. Except to a very limited degree, however, we do not attempt to quantify the quality of the allocations as this is well outside the scope of this project.

In addition, we note that we do not count zero amounts as allocations for any of the surveys, regardless of how they were obtained, because they do not contribute to total income. Our assessment of the relative magnitudes of allocation across surveys utilizes estimates of the percentage of persons with income who had any portion of their income allocated and the percentage of total dollars that was allocated. Therefore, the allocation rates in the tables presented in this section should not be interpreted as overall non-response rates for the indicated items.

Estimates of the frequency of allocation across the five surveys demonstrate wide variation. After presenting our findings for total income, we turn to differences in allocation rates across the income distribution and by source of income.

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