The National Experimental Wellbeing Statistics (NEWS) project is a new experimental project to develop improved estimates of income, poverty, and other measures of economic wellbeing. Using all available survey, administrative, and commercial data, we strive to provide the best possible estimates of our nation and economy.
In this first release, we estimate improved income and poverty statistics for 2018 by addressing several possible sources of bias documented in prior research. We address biases from (1) unit nonresponse through improved weights, (2) missing income information in both survey and administrative data through improved imputation, and (3) misreporting by combining or replacing survey responses with administrative information. Reducing survey error using these techniques substantially affects key measures of well-being. With this initial set of experimental estimates, we estimate median household income is 6.3 percent higher than in survey estimates, and poverty is 1.1 percentage points lower. These changes are driven by subpopulations for which survey error is particularly relevant. For householders aged 65 and over, median household income is 27.3 percent higher, and poverty is 3.3 percentage points lower than in survey estimates. We do not find a significant impact on median household income for householders under 65 or on child poverty.
We will continue research (1) to estimate income at smaller geographies, through increased use of American Community Survey data, (2) addressing other potential sources of bias, (3) releasing additional years of statistics, particularly more timely estimates, and (4) extending the income concepts measured. As we advance the methods in future releases, we expect to revise these estimates.
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