Disability - EMPSTAT and NILFACT

Can someone check my logic here?

If someone is out of the labor force due to a disability, I believe they should answer “32 - Unable to Work” to EMPSTAT (https://cps.ipums.org/cps-action/variables/EMPSTAT).

However, it looks like they could also answer “34 - Other” to EMPSTAT and then subsequently answer NILFACT as “01 - Disability” (IPUMS CPS: descr: NILFACT).

If I want to measure how many people are out of the labor force due to disability, do I need to sum together respondents who answer 32 to EMPSTAT plus those who answer [34 to EMSTAT] & [01 to NILFACT] ?

My coworker and I have been searching all over for an answer to this and are coming up blank - any guidance would be appreciated, or any links to existing discussion/papers would be warmly welcomed.

Thanks in advance!

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I have the exact same question as the above. I can easily understand the EMPSTAT - 32, but I am uncertain of how to interpret those who answered EMPSTAT - 34, and then NILFACT 1 or 2 (Disabled or Ill)…how is IPUMS determining the NILFACT in this case? How should I interpret it?

There are multiple points in the CPS questionnaire where a respondent can indicate they have a disability that prevents them from working. As you have guessed, you may want to define such respondents based on answers to more than one survey question. The universe of NILFACT is civilians who are not in the labor force but did not specify a reason (they did not say they were retired). Respondents who said in the EMPSTAT question that they were NILF and disabled were not automatically coded as having a disability in NILFACT. And a respondent may not have said they were disabled in the EMPSTAT question but still stated disabled as their situation in NILFACT. In short, respondents can be inconsistent with their responses and may state they are NILF due to disability in some questions but not others.

It is up to the discretion of the researcher to determine how to identify such respondents. You will likely find the CPS questionnaire and data dictionary for whichever sample(s) you are interested in useful as you can see the order in which questions are asked, and the process for determining which questions are asked of respondents based on their answers to previous questions. The universe tab of each variable tells you who was eligible to be asked the corresponding survey question.

Note that IPUMS CPS also offers unharmonized versions of the BMS and ASEC variables; these reflect the original data and can be useful for those who wish to take a different harmonization approach or just have another resource for understanding how the original versions of the data map onto the harmonized IPUMS CPS. In the EMPSTAT variable, the category “NILF, unable to work” corresponds to the response “Not in labor force - disabled” in the unharmonized variable that IPUMS uses to create EMPSTAT (available via IPUMS CPS as UH_MLR_B3). The NILFACT variable corresponds to the unharmonized variable UH_NILFACT_B1; you can see that the frequencies for the disabled categories match between the two variables.