Panel Paper: The Supplemental Poverty Measure in the American Community Survey: 2011

Thursday, November 6, 2014 : 3:25 PM
Acoma (Convention Center)

*Names in bold indicate Presenter

Trudi Renwick, U.S. Census Bureau
This paper provides poverty estimates of the Supplemental Poverty Measure (SPM) for 2009 using the 2011 American Community Survey. The paper includes comparisons of all of the elements of the SPM as measured in the ACS and the Current Population Survey Annual Social and Economic Supplement (CPS ASEC). The paper will include state level estimates of SPM poverty rates and the impact of individual elements of the SPM on SPM poverty rates.

Since the Bureau recommends the use of the American Community Survey (ACS) for poverty estimates for sub-national geographic units, it is important to explore how this new measure can be estimated from ACS data. The challenge is that the ACS is missing a number of key data elements required to produce SPM estimates, including program participation, the value of SNAP benefits, taxes, child care expenses, medical out of pocket expenditures and some relationship codes. This paper will explore how these data limitations might be overcome. 

On April 1, 2011, the Census Bureau sponsored a workshop at the Urban Institute on State Poverty Measurement Using the American Community Survey. (For a summary of the workshop see  This workshop was designed to provide expert advice to the Census Bureau on the development of a SPM at the state level using the ACS. The workshop participants discussed the myriad challenges involved in using the ACS to produce SPM estimates.  The summary of the workshop concludes with the following text:

The conversation confirmed that producing state-level estimates of the SPM using the ACS is a challenging undertaking. There are no easy shortcuts. Nonetheless, researchers agreed that it is not in our collective interests for multiple variants of the SPM to spring up. Most agreed that ideally one institution would take charge of creating a common framework for implementing the SPM on the ACS. Workshop participants hoped that the Census Bureau would play this role. No other institution has the range of expertise, resources, and access to confidential data to undertake this task.

Building on the extraordinary work at the state and local level using the ACS to develop SPM-like estimates, this paper will develop a proposal for how the Census Bureau might produce SPM estimates using ACS data.  This analysis will include the imputation of relationship pointers to ACS PUMS data.  These relationship pointers will be used to form tax units and SPM resource units.  The analysis will also take advantage of a new tax calculator that has been created to model taxes in the ACS.  The paper will have a particular emphasis on how the data in the CPS ASEC might be used to inform the ACS imputations using PROC MI to perform a predicted means match.  A second focus of this exploration is to assess the feasibility of producing an ACS public use research file that researchers could use to produce local SPM estimates that are comparably calculated for all areas.  Due to this second focus, the analysis in this paper will use the 2011 ACS PUMS file.

Full Paper: