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Precision in Measurement: Using State-Level Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program and Temporary Assistance for Needy Families Administrative Records and the Transfer Income Model (TRIM3) to Evaluate Poverty Measurement

Working Paper Number SEHSD-WP2018-30
Kathryn Shantz and Liana Fox
Component ID: #ti689234198

Abstract

Policy leaders look to quality data and statistics to help inform and guide programmatic decisions. As a result, assessing the quality and validity of major household surveys in capturing accurate program participation is essential. One method for evaluating survey quality is to compare self-reported program participation in surveys to administrative records from the program itself.
 
In this paper, we are interested in understanding two issues. First, how closely do self-reported Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) participation and benefit amounts in the Current Population Survey Annual Social and Economic Supplement (CPS ASEC), as well as SNAP and TANF participation and benefit amounts corrected for underreporting with the Transfer Income Model, version 3 (TRIM3), align with state-level administrative records? We find that 43.0 percent of households who receive SNAP according to administrative records do not report receipt in the CPS ASEC and 62.4 percent of households who receive TANF according to administrative records do not report receipt in the CPS ASEC. Second, how does replacing values from the CPS ASEC with TRIM3 values or administrative records for SNAP and TANF change poverty measurement in the Supplemental Poverty Measure (SPM)? We found that factoring in both SNAP and TANF benefits, the CPS ASEC overestimates SPM rates by 0.4 percent and TRIM3 underestimates SPM rates by 0.4 percent, both compared to administrative records.

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