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Oct 30 -- The Census Bureau invites comments to OMB by November 30, 2023 regarding the proposed 2024 Survey of Income and Program Participation (SIPP). [Comments due 30 days after submission to OMB on October 31.]

The SIPP collects information about a variety of topics including demographics, household composition, education, nativity and citizenship, health insurance coverage, Medicaid, Medicare, employment and earnings, unemployment insurance, assets, child support, disability, housing subsidies, migration, Old-Age Survivors and Disability Insurance (OASDI), poverty, and participation in various government programs like Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), Supplemental Security Income (SSI), and Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF).

The main objective of the SIPP is to provide accurate and comprehensive information about the income and program participation of individuals and households in the United States. The survey’s mission is to provide a nationally representative sample for evaluating: 1) annual and sub-annual income dynamics; 2) movements into and out of government transfer programs; 3) family and social context of individuals and households; and 4) interactions among these items. A major use of the SIPP is to evaluate the use of, and eligibility for, government programs and to analyze the impacts of modifications to those programs. The SIPP collects detailed information on cash and non-cash income (including participation in government transfer programs) once per year. The current SIPP panel continues to reduce the cost of collection, improve accuracy, increase relevance and timeliness, reduce respondent burden, and increase accessibility.

The SIPP sample is nationally representative, with an oversample of low-income areas, in order to increase the ability to measure participation in government programs.

The SIPP program provides critical information necessary to understand patterns and relationships in income and program participation. It will fulfill its objectives to keep respondent burden and costs low, maintain high data quality and timeliness, and use a refined and vetted instrument and processing system. The SIPP data collection instrument maintains the improved data collection experience for respondents and interviewers and focuses on improvements in data quality and better topic integration.

The SIPP instrument is currently written in Blaise and C#. It incorporates an Event History Calendar (EHC) design to help ensure that the SIPP will collect intra-year dynamics of income, program participation, and other activities with at least the same data quality as earlier panels. The EHC is intended to help respondents recall information in a more natural “autobiographical” manner by using life events as triggers to recall other economic events. For example, a residence change may often occur contemporaneously with a change in employment. The entire process of compiling the calendar focuses, by its nature, on consistency and sequential order of events, and attempts to correct for otherwise missing data.

Since the SIPP EHC collects information using this “autobiographical” manner for the prior year, due to the coronavirus pandemic, select questions were modified to include answer options related to the pandemic as well as adding new questions pertaining to the pandemic. For instance, we adjusted the question regarding being away from work part-time to include being possibly furloughed due to coronavirus pandemic business closures. We also added new questions to collect information on whether the respondent received any stimulus payments.

This request is for the SIPP collection starting February 2024. The Census Bureau plans to conduct the SIPP using an overlapping sample design. The Census Bureau's SIPP Computer-Assisted Personal Interviewing (CAPI) will use an Event History Calendar (EHC) interviewing method and a 12-month, calendar-year reference period.  

In the 2024 SIPP, the survey removes content that is no longer relevant such as the remaining COVID-19 pandemic questions, as well as making improvements on retirement lump-sum content and the medical- and jointly-held-debts sections. The changes aim for better clarity and a reduction to respondent burden.

Starting in 2024 survey year, the sample will continue to use the overlapping survey design, however, the sample will be reduced to 35,000 housing units due to the increase in collection costs but static appropriated funds.
Regarding the reduction of sample, while the SIPP team appreciate the outpouring of support for maintaining the previous sample of 53,000 households. The SIPP team recognizes and agrees with the rich data that are uniquely available in the SIPP, however, between a reduction in the SIPP budget with continuing increases in the cost of collecting SIPP, maintaining a 53,000 sample was deemed not tenable. The Census Bureau developed a strategic reduction in the 2023 SIPP sample that included 15,000 Wave 1 cases to ensure a healthy panel. With approximately 25,000 returning sample in Waves 2+, in order to field the target 35,000 households, another 5,000 Type A noninterviews were identified as a low propensity household (e.g. consecutive refusals, strong interviewee reluctance, and hard-to-reach households) and therefore not worked. For 2024 SIPP, we are planning a 14,000 Wave 1 sample size with no reduction in Waves 2+ sample size. The SIPP team will continue to evaluate the ability to increase sample, however, without an increase in funding for the program, the 35,000 households is the most fiscally and statistically defensible sample the Census Bureau can maintain.  

SIPP: https://www.census.gov/sipp/
Census submission to OMB: https://www.reginfo.gov/public/do/PRAViewICR?ref_nbr=202310-0607-005 Click IC List for data collection instruments, View Supporting Statement for newly added technical documentation. Submit comments through this webpage.
FRN: https://www.federalregister.gov/d/2023-23905

For AEA members wishing to submit comments, "A Primer on How to Respond to Calls for Comment on Federal Data Collections" is available at https://www.aeaweb.org/content/file?id=5806

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