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SIPP Content

While the main objective of SIPP is to provide accurate and comprehensive information about the income and program participation of individuals and households in the United States, SIPP also collects extensive data on many factors of economic well-being. To create a more complete representation of national well-being, SIPP also collects extensive information concerning family dynamics, educational attainment, housing expenditures, asset ownership, health insurance, disability, child care, and food security. These data put the income and program recipiency of individuals and households into the family and social context. This allows researchers to examine the ways in which these factors interact to influence financial well-being and movement into or out of government assistance programs.

Visit the Questionnaires and Instruments page to see SIPP questionnaires and survey instruments.

Adult Well-Being

The Adult Well-Being section collects information on certain characteristics of the household and surrounding neighborhood, as well as the household’s ability to obtain the food they need  and pay housing expenses.  Specifically, this section covers, home conditions (plumbing, pests, and holes in the walls or floors), neighborhood conditions (traffic, trash, and safety) household financial needs (mortgage and utilities), and food security (did the household ever fail to obtain the food they need). All of these items are household level items and these questions are intended to be answered by the household reference person, although another household member 15 years or older may act as a proxy.  The information on adult well-being and food security can be used to examine differences in living conditions and financial hardships  for subgroups of the population. This information is important because it provides additional insight into living conditions beyond more common measures such as income or wealth.

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The Assets section collects detailed information on assets and liabilities for individuals and households in the United States. This section collects three types of data. The first is data on assets owned during the reference period, as well as the type of ownership (joint or sole). The second is the value of assets and any debts held against them as of the last day of the reference period. Finally, the survey collects data on income received from each asset over the course of the reference period. Types of assets covered in this section include: IRA / Keogh accounts, 401(k) / Thrift accounts, government savings bonds, interest checking accounts, non-interest earning (regular) checking, savings accounts, money market accounts, certificates of deposit, stocks, mutual funds, municipal / corporate bonds, life insurance, rental property, real estate (other than primary residence), annuities, trusts, business owned as an investment only, business as a job, and a catch-all for any other assets not covered. Data on the following are collected at the household level (questions are answered by the household reference person): primary residence (including mobile homes), rent, mortgage, utilities, cars and trucks, recreational vehicles (motorcycles, boats, RVs, and other), and educational savings accounts. Person-level and household-level wealth and income can be used to model eligibility for various government programs. These data can be used to produce a wide range of wealth, debt, and distribution estimates and analyze how they change over time.

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Child Care

The Child Care section covers various types of child care and related costs. In the 2014 Panel, questions are organized by arrangement type rather than by child in order to minimize Survey Participant burden. Payment for child care is based on all arrangements used for all children in the household. Data regarding hours in care, location, or payment by type of child care are no longer collected. Child care data are edited to store on the parent and the child’s record.  This child care data can be used to assess the number of children in parental, relative, and non-relative child care arrangements. In addition, the child care questions can be used to assess the types of child care working families use, how much families pay for child care, if they receive government child care assistance, enrollment in federal Head Start programs, and if child care interfered with work and any lost work time due to child care interruptions. 

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The basic demographic content section includes data related to sex, age, birthdate, race and Hispanic origin. This information is collected at the person-level. However, the reference person is asked to provide this information for all members of the household that are present at the interview month. Two sections are new to the 2014 Panel: Type 2 people (persons who lived with the Survey Participant during the reference period, but have since moved) and parent mortality. In order to provide a more complete picture of the household, the Type 2 section collects information about people that lived in the household between interviews but not at the time of the interview. Basic demographic information about Type 2 people includes age, sex, relationship to others in the household, and months they lived in the household. Type 2 people do not have their own record. Type 2 variables are person-level variables on the record of household members that lived with the Type 2 person. The Parent mortality section asks all Survey Participants the birthdate of their biological parents, if their parents are still alive, and the date of death if the parents are no longer living.

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The Disability section collects information about difficulty performing certain activities due to a physical, mental or emotional condition. The section covers a set of six functional limitations, along with six additional questions about children and the working-age population. The six functional limitation questions cover difficulties with hearing, seeing, cognitive activities, ambulatory activities, self-care activities, and independent living activities.  The questions are consistent with the standard disability questions implemented across multiple government surveys, including the American Community Survey (ACS) and the Current Population Survey (CPS). The additional child questions ask about developmental delays (under 5 only), difficulty playing with other children (5 to 14 years old), and difficulty with school work (5 to 14 years old). The work-related questions are asked of individual’s age 15 years old and older. The questions cover difficulty finding or keeping a job, limitations in the kind or amount of work possible, and being prevented from working at all.

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Disability Income

The Disability Income Payment section collects person-level data for Survey Participant's ages 15 to 69 with a reported health condition regarding any Disability Income receipt during the reference year. Information is collected for up to ten benefit types and the amount of monthly income received from each. The disability income benefit types include the following: (1) Disability Income Benefits received from a sickness, accident, or disability insurance policy; (2) Disability Income Benefits received from an employer disability payment; (3) Disability Income Benefits received from a company or union; (4) Disability Income Benefits received from a Federal Civil Service or other Federal civilian employee pension; (5) Disability Income Benefits received from a State government pension; (6) Disability Income Benefits received from a Local government pension; (7) Disability Income Benefits received from United States Military retirement pay; (8) Disability Income Benefits received from United States Government Railroad Retirement; (9) Disability Income Benefits received from Black Lung benefits; (10) Disability Income Benefits received from another disability income.      

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The Educational Attainment section collects the highest level of educational attainment  for adults age 15 and older.  For high school graduates, SIPP asks if they earned their high school diploma via graduation or by passing a GED exam.  The section also contains information on whether Survey Participants age 18 and older who were not high school graduates had completed high school by means of a GED. In the 2014 panel, there is a new section on alternative credentials.  This section includes information on whether Survey Participants have a professional certification, state or industry license, or educational certificate.  Survey Participants who reported a professional certification or license are asked to report the awarding organization. This information is important because it provides details on the education, training, qualifications, and skill development of the adult population.  This data can also be used to show how educational attainment affects a variety of socioeconomic outcomes.

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Education Enrollment

The Education Enrollment section collects up to four spells of information on the months of enrollment, grade level, school type, full-time or part-time status, and the credential(s) the Survey Participant is working toward. Enrollment information is collected for all Survey Participants age 3 or older. This information provides details on the school enrollment for the population at the month-level and can be used to analyze the manner with which education may interact with job, program, and family factors.

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Employment and Earnings

The Labor Force section collects information about an individual’s work history from the beginning of the reference year through the interview month.  Topics covered include the weeks of employment, amount and type(s) of earnings, and business characteristics. For Survey Participants with a period time not working, SIPP collects data on the reasons why the Survey Participants did not hold a job, and whether the Survey Participants looked for work. Basic information about the job such as beginning and ending dates, the type of work arrangement, and reason for the job ending (when applicable) are collected first. The next questions are characteristics of the job/business such as industry, occupation, union status, the number of employees, and incorporation status. Next the survey asks about the types of earnings the Survey Participant received (wage/salary, commission, tips, overtime or bonus), the amounts earned, and the number of hours worked per week.  Finally, the survey asks Survey Participants to report any time they were away from the job without pay within the reported job spell. For those periods where the Survey Participant was not employed, information is collected about the labor force status of the Survey Participant during that period.  This includes information about why they were not working, unpaid work in a family business or farm, time spent on layoff and time spent looking for work. The 2014 Panel allows Survey Participants to report detailed information for up to seven jobs and up to three periods of time away without pay. Survey Participants may report up to two changes in wage/salary pay rate and hours worked for each job over the reference period.

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Energy Assistance

The Energy Assistance section collects household-level data about the payment of utilities and receipt of energy assistance at any point during the reference year. Households that are rented or occupied without payment of rent, receive a rental subsidy or housing voucher, and have annual and/or monthly household incomes below the income threshold are asked whether they pay separately for water, electricity, gas, or oil. Households with annual and/or monthly income below an income threshold are asked if they received any energy assistance from the federal, state, or local government at any time during the reference period and if so, the form of energy assistance. Forms of energy assistance include: (1) checks sent to the household, (2) coupons or vouchers sent to the household, or (3) payments sent directly to the utility company, fuel dealer, or landlord.

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Family and Household

Family and Household information is collected about each Survey Participant’s relationship to the reference person, parent pointers (the person number of a Survey Participant’s mother or father if they live in the household), and parent type (biological, step, adopted). Family and household recodes are created, including the number of people in the household, the number of the people in the family that month, the number of people under 18, the number of people in the household over 65, the number of own children in  the family that month, and family type (married couple, male headed, female headed). In addition, the 2014 Panel data includes a monthly (person month) recode of the relationship of each Survey Participant in the household that month to every other person in the household that month for every month of the reference period. Each person with a record on the file will have a set of variables showing how the other person is related to the record holder during the months living together. Each of these three variables has two versions: one counting only interviewed household members and one counting interviewed household members and Type 2 people (people who were living in the household that month, but no longer reside in the household). In the 2014 Panel, data indicate cohabiting relationships that do not include the householder throughout all months. In addition, answer lists for relationship questions have changed to distinguish opposite and same-sex couples. Additionally, parent pointers are now gender neutral, allowing for reporting of same-sex parents.

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The 2014 SIPP Panel features an expanded fertility section, including a more comprehensive fertility history, now asked of all adults.  Complete fertility histories are collected for all Survey Participants age 15 and up. Each sample member will report the total number of children birthed/ fathered, as well as the  month and year of birth for each child (NOTE: month of birth will not be released on the public use file).  Additionally, for adults with more than one child, there is a question about multiple partner fertility, providing the first national estimate of multiple partner fertility.  Data regarding men’s children provide a more comprehensive portrait of men’s fertility than has previously been available. Each Survey Participant with a child age 15 or older is asked whether they are a grandparent.  The Fertility data in SIPP allow for the analysis of the impact from children and grandchildren on the financial well-being of the population.

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Health Care Utilization and Medical Expenditures

The Health Care Utilization section collects information about Survey Participant health status (e.g., excellent, very good, good, fair, or poor), number of days sick in bed or hospitalized, prescription medication use, and number of visits to dentists and medical providers. Additionally, for Survey Participants with a period of time without health insurance, SIPP collects data regarding the number of medical visits during the time where the Survey Participant was uninsured. The Medical Expenditures section collects information about health care related costs over the last year, including  health insurance premiums, over-the-counter medical items, and non-over-the-counter medical products and services, as well as whether the Survey Participant had a Flexible Spending Account. 

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Health Insurance

The Health Insurance section collects information on health coverage including private health insurance, Medicare, Medicaid, military coverage, and any other coverage. If a Survey Participant does not have health insurance, questions are asked about reasons the Survey Participant did not have coverage.  Private insurance questions cover up to two simultaneous sources of coverage in any given month, with a follow-up question about the more specific type/source (e.g., through employer, direct-purchase, etc.). Questions related to the Health Insurance Marketplace (for Wave 2+) and subsidized insurance premiums are included for private health insurance, medical assistance, government/public assistance, and other coverage. Marketplace coverage is classified as private direct purchase coverage, but the data collection methodology acknowledges that some Survey Participants perceive Marketplace coverage as a public program, while others perceive Marketplace coverage as private health insurance.  

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Income from the Assets, Employment and Earnings, and Programs and Income Transfer sections of the SIPP are combined to produce total personal income. Total personal income is calculated monthly by summing the detailed income sources listed here. For income sources reported annually, reported income is allocated evenly across the months of the reference year by dividing by 12. To avoid double counting, transfer payment amounts that are received at the family level are only listed on the record of the family member identified as the owner of the benefit.  

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The Language content in the demographics section contains information on language use and English ability.  The content specifically includes information on whether people age 5 and older speak a language other than English at home.  For people that speak a language other than English at home, there is additional information on what the other language is and how well they speak English.  The data also contain a recode variable that indicates households where no one age 14 and older speaks English only, or speaks a language other than English at home and speaks English “very well.” The content is important because it provides information on the language use and ability of the U.S. population and allows researchers and policy makers to examine the association between English language proficiency and important socioeconomic outcomes.

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Life Insurance

The Life Insurance section collects person-level data for Survey Participants age 30 or older who reported being retired or ever being retired regarding any  received retirement income from a paid-up life insurance policy or annuity during the reference year. This section collects information about the type of life insurance income benefit, the month(s) of receipt, the total amount received during the reference period, and whether the life insurance policy or annuity was received in payments or as a single lump sum.

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Lump Sum Benefit Income

The Lump Sum Benefit Income section collects person-level data for Survey Participants age 15 or older regarding any received lump sum income benefits during the reference year. This section collects information about the type of benefit and the amount received during each month in the reference year. There are four main types of lump sum benefits collected: (1) Lump sum income benefits received from a pension or retirement plan; (2) lump sum income benefits received from severance pay; (3) lump sum income benefits received from a deferred payment or final check; and (4) lump sum income benefits received from another source.

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Marital Status and History

Data about the marital status and marital history of each Survey Participant 15 and over is collected in both the 2014 Panel and the SSA supplement. The 2014 Panel includes questions about registered domestic partnerships. Both same-sex and opposite-sex marriages are included as married... Marital status is asked of the reference person in regards to every person over 15 in the household during the interview month. Additionally, the spouse is identified for every person married with spouse present. Every person age 15 or over and ever married is asked how many times they have been married, whether they have ever been widowed or divorced, the year of their first marriage, and the year of their current marriage. The EHC then records up to three marital status changes over the reference period, resulting in a monthly marital status for each Survey Participant 15 and over.  Sample members married during any month, and living with a spouse will have a spouse pointer for that month. Sample members cohabiting in any month will have a cohabitation pointer for that month and an indicator of domestic partnership or civil union.

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Nativity and Citizenship

The Nativity and Citizenship section of the 2014 Panel includes questions identical to previous SIPP panels. These questions are asked of the reference person about every person in the household. The section begins by asking if the sample member was born in the United States.   For those born in the United States, state of birth is collected. For those born outside of the United States, country of birth is collected. Additional information is collected for foreign-born Survey Participants regarding citizenship status, how the Survey Participant became a citizen (if applicable), immigration status on arrival, and year of entry. New to the 2014 Panel are questions on the nativity status of the Survey Participant’s biological mother and biological father. Survey Participants are asked if their biological mother and father were born in the U.S., and (if applicable) the country of birth. All nativity and citizenship questions are collected at the person-level. 

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Other Income Assistance

The Other Income Assistance section collects program participation information from Survey Participants ages 15 and older.  Although the programs in this section are not means-tested, only Survey Participants with household incomes below 200 percent of the poverty line are asked about program receipt. The questions focus on informal types of assistance (food, transportation, training, clothing, and housing) that fall outside the government’s main social welfare programs.  The other income assistance questions identify the types of assistance, the source(s) of the assistance, and the months of assistance receipt. Actual dollar amounts for food assistance, clothing assistance, gas vouchers, and bus/subway tokens are no longer collected in the 2014 Panel. The information on other income assistance provides data users with a fuller picture of the programs and services that contribute to an individual’s income and overall well-being.

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Monthly family poverty status allows data users to evaluate the movement of families into and out of poverty over the course of the reference period. Additional poverty variables at the household level allow data users to measure the ability of a family or household to meet their basic needs. The monthly poverty thresholds are assigned based on the composition of a family or household in a given month, depending on the variable being used. The monthly poverty thresholds are also adjusted to reflect changes in the Consumer Price Index for all Urban Consumers (CPI-U) across months. Once the appropriate monthly threshold is assigned, income-to-poverty ratios are calculated by dividing total family (or household) income by the appropriate threshold. If the resulting ratio is less than 1, then that family (or household) and all individuals in it, are in poverty for the given month. For individuals with a valid poverty threshold in each month of the reference period, annual income-to-poverty ratios are calculated. Values are based on the annual sum of the individual’s monthly total family (or household) income divided by the annual sum of the individual’s monthly poverty thresholds (reflecting changing family or household composition over the reference period). The resulting annual values are then divided to calculate the individual’s annual income-to-poverty ratio.

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The Residency section collects information about an individual’s residence history from the start of the reference year through the interview month. Data include where the Survey Participant lived, how long the Survey Participant lived at the residence, whom the Survey Participant lived with, why the Survey Participant moved to the residence, tenure status, type of living quarters, and whether the Survey Participant received housing assistance. This information is collected, for each Survey Participant, for up to five residences the Survey Participant lived at for at least one month during the reference period, including the interview address. Survey Participant’s residence spells can include time in group quarters, medical institutions, emergency or transitional shelters, unoccupied tent or trailer sites, and cars or vans. Residence data are collected at the spell level and are provided to data users in person-month format. The exceptions are tenure and housing subsidies, which are copied to the appropriate residence spell.

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School Meals

The School Meals section collects household and person-level information about the receipt of free, reduced-price, and full-price school lunches and breakfasts at any point during the school year. For children between the ages of 5 and 18 who have not yet graduated from high school, the mother, father, or guardian is asked whether any child in the house usually got the school lunch/breakfast provided by their school during the school year. This information is stored on the record of the reporting adult. Additionally, an indicator of receipt of school lunches/breakfasts is available on the record of eligible children (ages 5 to 18 that have not yet graduated from high school).

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Support Paid

The Support Paid section collects information about monies paid to non-household members. Survey Participants with children under 21 years of age living outside the household are asked about the number of these children, if the parents made payments to support these children, how much support was made in the previous calendar year, and how much time was spent with the children. Additionally, all Survey Participants aged 15 years and older are asked if they provided financial support to people living outside their household who were either: their parent or parents, children 21 years and older, any other related people, current or ex-spouses, or any other unrelated people. The number of people who are supported is collected in each category, as well as the amount paid to them during the previous calendar year.

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Survivor Income Benefits

The Survivor Income Benefits section collects person-level data for widow/widower household members age 15 or older regarding survivor income benefit receipt at any time during the reference year. The Survivor Benefit section collects up to 13 types of survivor income benefits, the amount(s) received, and when the amount was received...

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Page Last Revised - August 10, 2023
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