This report focuses on the participation and characteristics of people who received benefits from any of the following means-tested assistance programs:
- Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)
- Housing Assistance
- Supplemental Security Income (SSI)
- Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF)
- General Assistance (GA)
The data come from the 2008 Panel of the Survey of Income and Program Participation (SIPP) and cover calendar years 2009 through 2012. The SIPP is a longitudinal survey, which means that, unlike periodic point-in-timesurveys, such as the Current Population Survey (CPS), the SIPP follows the same people over time. This longitudinal quality allows examination of the SIPP sample from two perspectives.
First, it is possible to observe the same people over a span of time. The number of months within a period of time when individuals received benefits from one or more means-tested assistance programs can be examined, and entry and exit activity for each program can be measured. For example, the number, timing, and duration of people moving into and out of a particular situation within a time period can be studied, such as the length of time an individual continuously receives program benefits.
Second, a population of interest can be analyzed at single points of time over regular intervals measuring gross activity levels. This cross-sectional perspective captures changes over time in the level of an activity, such as the proportion of the population receiving assistance from a particular program at selected points in time.
– United States Census Bureau