NHIS Income Data Post 2019

Hi all,

Hoping you can help answer some confusion I’m having on using an income variable in NHIS data from 2019-2022. It looks like FAMTOTINC was only collected in 2019 and 2020 and QTCINC is top coded and only for 2019, 2020, and 2022. Is there an income variable that reports on different income brackets that can be used for 2019-2022?

Both estimated dollar value (FAMTOTINC) and bracketed family income (INCFAM07ON) are not available in the NHIS public use file starting in 2021 (see the Family Income sections from the 2020 public use sample adult codebook and the corresponding 2021 codebook). This data can only be accessed by application through the National Center for Health Statistics Research Data Center (RDC).

A possible solution to this dilemma is to use the IPUMS NHIS variable POVLEV as an alternative path to get at total family income in the 2021 & 2022 NHIS samples. POVLEV reports the ratio of family income to an approximation of the federal poverty line (the specific thresholds are provided on page 113 in the NHIS Survey Description). If you can determine the poverty threshold for the respondent and multiply it by POVLEV, you will obtain an estimate of the total family income. Note that the thresholds vary based on family size. Inferring family size is harder in the 2019-forward NHIS structure, which only interviews one “sample adult” and one “sample child” per household. To determine family size, you could leverage the variables NUMADULTS (number of adults in the respondent’s family, top-coded to a max of three) and FAMKIDNO (number of children in the family). If you decide to proceed with this approach, you will want to pay attention to whether or not the sample adult and sample child are from the same family using SASCRESP (i.e., in the case of multi-family households). You might also be interested in the variable POVERTY, which reports the bracketed poverty ratio and is currently available for IPUMS NHIS samples from 1997-2022.

Note that POVLEV has not yet been integrated by IPUMS for the 2022 NHIS. I am seeing whether we plan to offer this variable in the future. In the meantime, you can download the public use 2022 NHIS sample adult and child files on the NCHS website to obtain POVLEV (POVRATTC_A/POVRATTC_C in the public use files) and merge it with your IPUMS NHIS extract (see this user guide for detailed instructions). This will be a one-to-one merge. Please feel free to follow up if any part of my response is unclear.