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


POVCATMEPS is an IPUMS MEPS constructed, categorical variable for total family income for MEPS-defined families as a percentage of the poverty line. MEPS families are defined as a group of two or more people related by birth, marriage, adoption, foster care, or cohabitation and residing together. Unlike the CPS-defined family, MEPS family does include unmarried partners and 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 POVCATMEPS, total individual income was summed across members of the MEPS family (defined by FAMIDYR) to yield a MEPS family income total. Total MEPS family income was then divided by the applicable poverty line (based on family size and composition), with the resulting percentages grouped into fourteen categories.

Persons missing FAMIDYR were treated as one-person families in constructing POVCATMEPS. POVCATMEPS was constructed using publicly available total individual income, which has been edited and top-coded. Due to this editing of the income data, POVCATMEPS 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. Additionally, an IPUMS MEPS constructed variable (POVCATCPS) is available for all survey years, and contains more detailed poverty line ratio categories. POVLEV, POVCAT, and POVCATCPS all calculate family income to poverty level ratios for the CPS family (excludes foster children and unmarried partners). POVCATCPS is constructed from the public (edited and top-coded) versions of total individual income (summed across CPS family), and therefore may not exactly match POVCAT.

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There are no comparability issues.


  • 1996-2021: All persons.


  • 1996-2021



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