Income / Poverty Data Decennial Census

Hi everyone. Apologies is this isn’t quite an IPUMS question, but I’m curious if the US Census provides income / poverty estimates at the census tract and census place level in the 2010 and 2020 Decennial Census. From looking around IPUMS and the US Census sites, it seems like they stopped collecting (or more likely making it publicly available) after the 2000 Decennial?

I know the 5-year ACS figures are available, but my committee and I are slightly skeptical of using those estimates as a point-in-time annual estimate, given that it’s a collection of different years. I was instead going to try “downcasting” from the PUMA level, but was hoping I could check against 2010 and 2020 census tract figures.

Any insight on this would be most appreciated.


Kelsey Michael O’Hollaren

Dear Kelsey,

The Census Bureau stopped collecting decennial data on income, poverty, and all other topics included on the “long form” after the 2000 census. For the 2010 and 2020 decennial, they asked the same 10 questions of all respondents, and those questions related to age, sex, race, ethnicity, relationship to householder, household composition (e.g., number of people in household), and housing tenure.

All of the long-form data moved to the ACS, and in order to get ACS data for smaller geographic units, you would use the 5-year summary data. Downscaling is possible but there will be substantial uncertainty in your tract level estimates from single-year ACS data. Definitely keep that in mind.

David Van Riper
IPUMS Research Scientist

1 Like