Is the LUNCHSUB variable in the CPS ASEC really only asked to households below a certain income threshold?


#1

There is no evidence that this is the case in the codebooks, nor in the actual data (which show that households with incomes well above poverty thresholds report having school-aged children who receive free and reduced-priced lunches). The description here thus seems inaccurate (and outdated because the eligibility thresholds are 130 and 185 percent of the poverty level for free and reduced-priced lunch, respectively, not 125 and 195 percent). Thanks in advance for any guidance with this question.


#2

Yes, I think you are right about this detail. I’ll send a note about this to the IPUMS CPS team and ask them to clarify the documentation. I think the tricky bit here is that the information discussed on the variable description is theoretically correct, however, in practice a small share of households do not comply to the eligibility rule. This generates the observation you point out.