Income Data for Policy Analysis: A Comparative Assessment of Eight Surveys. Internal Consistency


 In surveys that collect detailed sources of income, total personal income and total family income are calculated as sums of the reported or allocated amounts of the individual sources.66  Amounts can be allocated without a concern that they will be inconsistent with an existing total. In the NHIS, total family income is collected separately from personal earnings and also allocated independently. As we documented in Chapter V, the sum of personal earnings exceeds total family income for an estimated 61.7 million persons or more than one-fifth of the population in the 2003 NHIS. Allocation accounts for 71 percent of the discrepant cases, thus compounding the occasionally inconsistent reports of respondents. Eliminating the inconsistencies will require changes in the allocation strategy as well as editing of responses or the addition of a check to the automated survey instrument.

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