May 24, 2007

Over 400 Researchers Urge Congress to Continue Funding Key Census Survey

For Immediate Release: May 24, 2007

Contact: Lynn Erskine, 202-293-5380 x115

Washington, DC: More than 400 economists and social scientists signed a letter urging Congress to continue funding the Survey of Income and Program Participation (SIPP). The survey provides critical information on the effectiveness of Medicaid, Social Security, Food Stamps, unemployment insurance and other programs.

The letter was signed by 446 researchers, including Nancy Krieger (Harvard School of Public Health), Ann Markusen (Humphrey Institute for Public Affairs) and Timothy Smeeding (Center for Policy Research). The Center for Economic and Policy Research, a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization, coordinated the sign-on letter.

Read the letter and list of signatories.

President Bush's FY07 budget called for the elimination of the Census Bureau survey, but Congress voted to fully fund the survey in the FY07 continuing resolution after researchers and anti-poverty advocates voiced their opposition to the cuts. The President’s budget for FY08 again cuts funding for the SIPP and provides inadequate funds for the Census Bureau to develop a replacement survey. The future of the survey will be determined by Congressional appropriators who are working to complete their bills before July 4th.

The letter states: "We are writing to thank you for fully funding the Survey of Income and Program Participation (SIPP) in FY 2007, and to encourage you to maintain funding for the SIPP until a demonstrably better survey can be developed, tested, and a careful transition can be made from one to the other."

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.

CEPR’s Advisory Board 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.