The time period to which the data refers


I want to use the foodstamp, offpov, poverty, and empstat variables in the ASEC data for my research. I can find the description for the foodstamp variable as “family market value of food stamps.” If I use the foodstamp variable in the 2021 ASEC data, was the value calculated based on March 2021, or was it calculated based on 2020? Similarly, for the offpov, poverty, and empstat variables, I would like to know at which point the poverty and employment status are indicated. For example, in the case of the inctot variable, I know that it is calculated based on one year prior.

Thank you in advance.

Generally, questions in the ASEC refer to the previous calendar year. So, 2021 ASEC questions refer to the entire year of 2020. On IPUMS CPS, the variable metadata specifies the reference period of a question. For example, the description metadata of FOODSTMP states, “FOODSTMP indicates whether one or more members of the household received benefits from the Supplement Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) during the prior year. This program is formerly known as the Food Stamps program.” OFFPOV is calculated by IPUMS using information in POVERTY, which references the previous calendar year (I notice that the description of OFFPOV does not report the reference period, which we will update). EMPSTAT is a variable from the Basic Monthly Survey, and references the week prior to the survey (from the description metadata, “In the CPS, individuals’ employment status was determined on the basis of answers to a series of questions relating to their activities during the preceding week.”). If you are hoping to use variables with the same reference periods, you could use an ASEC variable about employment status rather than EMPSTAT. WKSWORK1 reports the number of weeks the respondent worked in the previous calendar year. WHYNWLY reports the main reason for not working at all during the previous calendar year, which may help you distinguish respondents who were unemployed from those who were out of the labor force.