March 2, 2006


Over 400 Economists and Social Scientists Urge Congress  to Save Key Census Survey

President's FY07 budget would end "Survey of Income and Program Participation"

For Immediate Release: March 2, 2006

Contact: Lynn Erskine, 202-293-5380 x115                                                                                                                     

Washington, DC: More than 400 economists and social science researchers signed a letter to Congress today opposing the elimination of the Survey of Income and Program Participation (SIPP).

To read the letter and signatories, click here.

President Bush's FY07 budget would eliminate the Census Bureau survey, which provides information on programs such as Medicaid, Social Security, Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) and unemployment insurance. The letter was signed by 432 researchers, including Brookings Institution fellow Ron Haskins and Nobel Laureate economists George Akerlof and Lawrence Klein.

The letter states: "The total cost of the SIPP is about $40 million per year, yet it provides a constant stream of in-depth data that enables government, academic, and independent researchers to evaluate the effectiveness and improve the efficiency of several hundred billion dollars in spending on social programs. We urge you to fully fund the SIPP so that we may continue to use it to evaluate the effectiveness of public policy in promoting the well-being of America's families."

Launched in 1984, the SIPP is a multi-panel, nationally representative dataset created by the U.S. Census. It was designed to measure economic well-being, including program participation, with in-depth questions on wealth and assets, debt, childcare usage, work schedules, disabilities, medical expenses, detailed educational attainment information, and detailed information on fertility. The survey tracks individuals for two to four years, with the most recent surveys tracking over 90,000 individuals.

"Hundreds of researchers have come forward to tell Congress: ‘Save the SIPP.' This survey is an essential tool for understanding the effects of policy on Americans' economic well-being," said Heather Boushey, economist at the Center for Economic and Policy Research, which organized the sign-on letter.

For signatories listed by state, see: http://www.ceprdata.org/savesipp/resletter-state.pdf

The Center for Economic and Policy Research is an independent, nonpartisan think tank that promotes democratic debate on the most important economic and social issues affecting people's lives. CEPR's Advisory Board of Economists includes Nobel Laureate economists Robert Solow and Joseph Stiglitz; Richard Freeman, Professor of Economics at Harvard University; and Eileen Appelbaum, Professor and Director of the Center for Women and Work at Rutgers University.