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Working Paper Number SEHSD-WP2016-17, SIPP-WP-274
Jonathan S. Eggleston, Mark A. Klee


The Survey of Income and Program Participation (SIPP) and the Survey of Consumer Finances (SCF) are two principal sources of wealth data for the U.S. population. The Social Security Administration sponsored Mathematica Policy Research to write a report that identified considerable discrepancies in wealth estimates across these surveys using data from 1998. While one might expect SIPP and SCF to deliver different estimates for a variety of reasons, the magnitude of differences in levels and trends across surveys fostered questions about SIPP wealth data quality. To address these concerns, SIPP implemented various strategies that the report recommended to close the gaps between wealth estimates. We conduct the first analysis of the impact of these changes. We offer potential explanations for why these two surveys continue to yield different estimates, and we discuss the broader implications for the wording and design of asset questions.

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