Family Identifier used to calculate FTOTVAL in CPS ASEC


FTOTVAL is the sum of INCTOT for all individuals of a family. I am trying to construct an allocation flag for FTOTVAL based on whether the income value of any component (INCWAGE, INCFARM etc) has been allocated for any of the members of the family.

First I tried to replicate FTOTVAL by adding INCTOT for all family members and I used (YEAR MONTH SERIAL FAMID) to uniquely identify a family. FAMID is the unique family identifier based on the Census Bureau’s definition of family, and FTOTVAL should have been constructed based on this variable. However, the variable I created in this way does not perfectly match FTOTVAL and there are some large discrepancies.

I also tried using (YEAR MONTH SERIAL FAMUNIT) to uniquely identify the family (where FAMUNIT is based on the IPUMS definition of a family). This variable matched some of the observations of FTOTVAL which were not being matched before, but there remained many discrepancies.

Could you please advise me on which variables I need to use in order to uniquely identify the family members whose income has been added up to obtain FTOTVAL for that family? This will allow me to determine whether FTOTVAL has been imputed by checking the allocation flags of other income variables for each of the family members.



The FTOTVAL variable uses the family designation as defined by the US Census Bureau and as identified via FTYPE. This detail is explained briefly on the comparability tab. The main reason for the discrepancy you observe is how the Census Bureau categorizes related sub-families in the calculation of FTOTVAL. As the FAMID variable states: “The Census Bureau defines a family as: a group of two people or more (one of whom is the householder) related by birth, marriage, or adoption and residing together; all such people (including related subfamily members) are considered as members of one family.” However, the FTOTVAL variable does not include income from related sub-families (see Table 2 and the “Subfamily Income Recode” section of this page). So, I’d suggest using the FTYPE variable to identify primary and sub-families. More generally, much of the information on the Replicating Official Poverty page will be useful for your purposes.