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Collected annually, the Current Population Survey Annual Social and Economic Supplement (CPS ASEC) is one of the most widely used socioeconomic surveys, and provides detailed information on income, work experience, poverty, health insurance coverage, and living arrangements in the U.S.

In 2014, the CPS ASEC included redesigned questions on income (specifically retirement income) and health insurance coverage, followed by changes in the 2015 CPS ASEC to allow spouses and unmarried partners to specifically identify as opposite- or same-sex. While data from the updated collection methods were released on schedule, data processing changes to take advantage of this new content are now complete.

This page shares information regarding these recent changes incorporated in the CPS ASEC survey design and changes to processing methods to improve data quality, and highlights the implications of these improvements for research on families and economic wellbeing in the U.S.

The 2018 CPS ASEC Bridge File and the 2017 CPS ASEC Research File provide income, poverty, and health insurance estimates based on these updated CPS ASEC questions as well as a redesigned processing system.

What is new or different on the 2018 CPS ASEC Bridge File and the 2017 CPS ASEC Research File:

• Account for same-sex married couples
• Revised procedures to improve imputation of missing income data
• Revised health insurance imputation methods
• Build up annual health coverage status from sub-annual reporting
• Reflect the rich economic and demographic data collected in the CPS ASEC

The new processing system introduces changes in how the Census Bureau processes family relationships, including those for same-sex couples, revised procedures for imputing income and health insurance variables, and several new income and health insurance variables. Improvements encompass both changes to the resolution of logically inconsistent data, revisions to imputation methods for both item and unit non-response, and new procedures for estimating annual health insurance coverage from sub-annual data.

Along with the 2018 CPS ASEC Bridge File released in April 2019, we released several working papers, notes and tables summarizing the differences between the estimates from the 2018 CPS ASEC Production File (released in September 2018 and processed using legacy programs) and the CPS ASEC Bridge File, a data dictionary, revised file formats and some supplemental technical documentation. Similarly, these supplemental materials and technical documentation are available for the 2017 CPS ASEC research file.

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