Reference Period Market Value Public Assistance

I wanted to double check the reference period of variables indicating the market value of food stamps, school lunch, and housing subsidy in CPS ASEC. Is it last year as for the income variables? The reference period is not defined in description of the variables.

I was not able to find any explicit information on the reference period for family market value variables. However, the 2021 ASEC technical documentation states that “data on employment and income refer to the preceding year, although demographic data refer to the time of the survey.” Since non-cash benefits are a type of income, my understanding is that they function similarly to other income variables in that the reference period is the previous calendar year. Another hint this is the case is that both universes for FOODSTAMP (F_MV_FS in the ASEC documentation ) and SCHLLUNCH (F_MV_SL) are derived from variables that reference the previous calendar year. This case however is less clear for HOUSSUB since the value reported is a monthly amount.

Thanks, this is helpful! Where do you see that food stamps and school lunch indicate annual values and housing subsidy indicate monthly values?

If the statement from the technical documentation on income data also includes data on non-cash benefits, then it would imply these are annual amounts based on the previous calendar year. There is however a specific note in the 2015 ASEC documentation which mentions that FHOUSSUB is a monthly amount. I assume that this is a monthly average derived from the previous calendar year, but the documentation isn’t explicit on this.

Apologies for the delayed response.