top of page

Survey of Income and Program Participation (SIPP)

While many people are familiar with the United States Census every 10 years as mandated by the Constitution, over 100 different surveys are conducted by the U.S. Census Bureau each year. SBB Research Group summarizes vital information from about these lesser-known—but significant—surveys in this educational series.

What is the Survey of Income and Program Participation (SIPP)?

The SIPP is a broad, longitudinal survey that collects data related to income, labor force participation, social program participation and eligibility, and general demographic characteristics to measure the effectiveness of existing federal, state, and local programs. The survey collects data across a consistent sample over several years and provides a measure of the nation’s well-being at the household level. Extensive information about family dynamics, educational attainment, housing expenditures, asset ownership, health insurance, disability, childcare, and food security are collected.

The survey’s mission is to provide a sample for the evaluation of the movement of various segments into and out of government assistance programs and the country’s changing family and social situations

Since 1983, SIPP data has provided the most extensive knowledge of how the nation’s economic well-being changes over time. This data allows for examining the interaction between tax, transfer, and other government and private policies. Government policymakers depend heavily on SIPP for information on income distribution and government assistance programs’ success.

How is the Data Used?

A significant application of the SIPP is to evaluate the use of and eligibility for government programs. This data provides policymakers with the facts to make better informed economic and policy decisions.

SIPP’s longitudinal feature allows for the analysis of selected dynamic characteristics of the population, including changes in income, participation in transfer programs, household and family composition, labor force behavior, and other associated events.

Data from SIPP longitudinal survey allow analysts to examine:

  • How changes in benefit levels impact recipients

  • Whether labor force participation is affected by income from other household members

  • How changes in the eligibility rules affect various age, gender, and racial groups

  • The impact of the participation in Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits (formerly known as Food Stamps)

  • The interactions between the distribution of income and changes in the structures of households and families


bottom of page