The aim of this paper is to assess the adequacy of the data infrastructure in the United States to meet future research and policy evaluation needs as it pertains to income, program participation, poverty, and financial vulnerability. I first discuss some major research themes that are likely to dominate policy and scientific discussions in the coming decade. This list includes research on the long-term consequences of income inequality and mobility, issues of transfer-program participation and intergenerational dependence, challenges with poverty measurement and poverty persistence, and material deprivation. I then summarize what information we currently collect in the U.S. that is used to address these issues, with particular focus on ten national panel datasets that cover these domains and continue to be fielded by the various federal agencies. Included in this section is a discussion of challenges posed by rising income nonresponse and underreporting in many panel surveys. I then conclude with a discussion of how the current panel surveys can be improved to address growing need for social science research on inequality, poverty, and material well being.

Document Type

Research Paper

Publication Date


Discussion Paper Number

DP 2014-09

Notes/Citation Information

Prepared for the National Science Foundation Conference, Assessing the Need for a New Nationally Representative Household Panel Survey in the United States, June 5-6, 2014.