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CPS family income as a percentage of the poverty line, IPUMS MEPS constructed, categorical


POVCATCPS is an IPUMS MEPS constructed, categorical variable for family income as a percentage of the poverty line, using the CPS definition of family. CPS families are defined as a group of two or more people related by birth, marriage, or adoption and residing together. Unlike the MEPS defined family, CPS family does not include unmarried partners or foster children.

Total family income is constructed using person-level total income, comprised of: annual earnings from wages, salaries, bonuses, tips, commissions; business and farm gains and losses; unemployment and workman's compensation; interest and dividends; alimony, child support, and other private cash transfers; private pensions, IRA withdrawals, social security, and veterans payments; supplemental security income and cash welfare payments from public assistance, Aid to Families with Dependent Children, and Aid to Dependent Children; gains or losses from estates, trusts, partnerships, S corporations, rent, and royalties; and a small amount of "other" income. Total individual income excluded tax refunds and capital gains.

To construct POVCATCPS, total individual income amounts were first summed across members of the CPS family (defined by CPSFAMID) to yield a CPS family income total. The total CPS family income amount was then divided by the applicable poverty line (based on family size and composition), with the resulting percentages grouped into fourteen categories.

Persons missing CPSFAMID were treated as one-person families in constructing POVCATCPS. POVCATCPS was constructed using publicly available total individual income, which has been edited and top-coded. Due to this editing of the income data, POVCATCPS may not always match what is reported in the MEPS poverty variables.

A continuous variable POVLEV for the ratio of total family income to federal poverty line is also available beginning in 2007. A categorical variable POVCAT is available for all survey years, and is constructed from income data that has not been top-coded, however, it offers less detailed poverty ratio categories. POVLEV and POVCAT calculate family income to poverty level ratios for the CPS family (excludes foster children and unmarried partners). Additionally, an IPUMS MEPS constructed variable (POVCATMEPS) is available for all survey years, and contains more detailed poverty line ratio categories for MEPS families (includes foster children and unmarried partners). POVCATMEPS is constructed from the public (edited and top-coded) versions of total individual income (summed across MEPS family).

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There are no comparability issues.


  • 1996-2019: All persons.


  • 1996-2019



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