At A Glance

Noteworthy Characteristics

  • Data collected for everyone in the household, including children.
  • Oversamples of households in areas with high poverty rates.
  • Comprehensive information about public assistance program participation, including SNAP, with some information about food security.
  • Extensive information on family economic status, demographics, and child well-being for families who have received public assistance. Many content areas cover topics related specifically to children.



To collect data about income and public assistance program participation for individuals and households in the United States (U.S.).

Target Population

The civilian, non-institutional population of the United States (U.S.).


Began in 1983. Interviews conducted every year, with panels lasting approximately four years. Most recent panel completed was 2014-2017. New panel begins February 2018.


Census Bureau, U.S. Department of Commerce

Special Note(s)

The survey was completely redesigned for the 2014 panel. The 2018 panel's design is similar to that for 2014.

See also: Survey of Program Dynamics (SPD).


Sample Design

Panel study, multistage, stratified, nationally representative sample. Involves a continuous series of national panels, with each panel lasting from 2½ to 4 years. Oversampling of households from areas with high poverty concentrations. Learn more about the sampling design.

Sample Size

Approximately 46,500 households in the 2004 panel. Approximately 70,300 individuals ages 18 years and older were interviewed during Wave 5 of the 2004 panel. Approximately 53,000 households in the 2018 panel.

Special Note(s)

The SIPP is administered in panels and conducted in waves. SIPP includes a nationally-representative sample of civilian, non- institutional households, with information about everyone in those households collected every year (a wave). Interviews also were conducted with any other adults living with original sample members at subsequent waves.

Key Variables


NameMethods of Assessment
Age of all household membersInterview/questionnaire
Disability (hearing; vision; work-related)Interview/questionnaire
Fertility historyInterview/questionnaire
Household size, members, and their relationships to reference personInterview/questionnaire
Housing type and whether rented or ownedInterview/questionnaire
Income (earned and unearned/cash and non-cash) amount and sourcesInterview/questionnaire
Marital status/historyInterview/questionnaire
Participation in and eligibility for public assistance programs (including food assistance, such as the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children [WIC] and the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program [SNAP], and reduced-price and free school breakfast and lunch)Interview/questionnaire
Race/ethnicity of all household membersInterview/questionnaire
Sex of all household membersInterview/questionnaire
Times for starting and terminating public assistance and reasonsInterview/questionnaire


NameMethods of Assessment
Food securityInterview/questionnaire
Frequency of family meals (breakfast and dinner)Interview/questionnaire

Physical Activity-Related

NameMethods of Assessment
Child’s participation in sportsInterview/questionnaire
Neighborhood cohesion and safety (for children and adults)Interview/questionnaire


NameMethods of Assessment
Child care arrangementsInterview/questionnaire
Functional limitations and disability of adults and childrenInterview/questionnaire
Housing and energy expensesInterview/questionnaire

Data Access and Cost

Data Availability

All SIPP data can be downloaded in SAS or ASCII formats from the SIPP website. 2014 Wave 1 data are also available in Stata format. SIPP data in SAS, SPSS, and Stata formats also are available through the National Bureau of Economic Research.


Free of charge.

Special Note(s)

The most recent year for which data are available is not necessarily the most recent year this survey was conducted.


Geocode Variable(s)

State, metropolitan area (states and metropolitan areas with populations less than 250,000 are not identified). With the 2004 panel and subsequent panels, metropolitan area is no longer identified.

Existing Linkages

SIPP data on individuals have been linked to Social Security Administration and Internal Revenue Service data on earnings and benefits using demographic variables (e.g., race, sex), date of birth, and number of children in a probability linkage. Learn more in SIPP Synthetic Beta Data Product and Enhanced Demographic-Economic Data Sets.

The methodology developed to link Current Population Survey (CPS) data to Food Stamp Program (FSP) data could be used to link SIPP data to FSP data because SIPP contains the same unique identifiers as CPS.

Special Note(s)

Learn more about linking the various types of SIPP data files from Chapter 13 of the SIPP User’s Guide.

Selected Publications

All publications


Hisnanick JJ, Walker KG. Food stamp receipt: Those who left versus those who stayed in a time of welfare reform. Washington (DC): U.S. Bureau of the Census, Housing and Household Economics Statistics Division, Longitudinal Income Statistics Branch. Presented at: The Status of Women: Facing the Facts, Forging the Future, Women’s Policy Research Conference, Washington, DC, June 2000.


Brault MW, Hootman J, Helmick CJ, Theis KA, Armour BS. Prevalence and most common causes of disability among adults—United States, 2005. Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report 2009;58(16):421-426.


Minh H, Rupp K, Sears J. The assessment of Survey of Income and Program Participation (SIPP) benefit data using longitudinal administrative records. Washington (DC): U.S. Census Bureau, 2002. SIPP Working Paper No. 238.