Difference between hhincome and ftotval?


The two variables, hhincome (household total income) and ftotval (family total income), have the same entries for most respondents, but not for all. What’s the difference between the two?

Thank you,




The difference between these two variables is subtle, but meaningful, as you can see in the data. The HHINCOME variable reports the total money income during the previous calendar year of all adult household members. This amount should equal the sum of all household members’ individual incomes as recorded in the IPUMS-CPS variable INCTOT. A key characteristic of this variable is that the persons included in the household are those present in the household at the time of the survey. People who lived in the household during the previous year but were not still living there at the time of the survey are not included; household members who lived elsewhere during the previous year but had joined the household at the time of the survey are included.
On the other hand the FTOTVAL variable represents the total income from all sources for each family. Here, “family”, as defined by the US Census Bureau represents groups of persons related to the head of the household. The definition of “family” unit used by the Census Bureau differs in small ways from that used by the IPUMS. More information on why and how this definition differs can be found on the FAMUNIT variable description.
Therefore, the differences between the HHINCOME and FTOTVAL variables are largely driven by differences in the definitions of “household” and “family”.