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ECON 332: Econometrics: Finding & Accessing Data

For Professor Aaron Swoboda - Spring 2010

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Aaron has told me that you will be working on a project to assess the impact of the 2000 Senior Citizens Freedom to Work Act, which repealed the earnings test for retirees receiving Social Security benefits.

Two government datasets present themselves as possibilities for investigating this question as they both contain data about individuals' age, income, and Social Security benefits; and both provide cross section data representative of the population of the United States before and after the passing of the legislation. The datasets are the Survey of Income and Program Participation, or SIPP, and the Current Population Survey, or CPS, March Supplement.

You will need to investigate these two datasets, their structure, methodology, purpose and the variables they contain to decide on one and use it for analysis. Documentation and metadata are available for this purpose and are linked below.

Because both of these datasets are very large, you will need to create a subset of the data, pulling just the variables you will need from the whole. To create a subset, you'll use a specialized software called Data Ferret.

Using Data Ferrett

Data Ferrett is software that allows for distribution of several government public use microdatasets. You will need to install it (on a Mac) or install a security policy (on a Windows machine) in order to use it. These videos demonstrate the setup process. The videos in the following sections provide detailed instructions for using Data Ferrett to download subsets of the SIPP or the CPS.

Warning: On lab machines, Data Ferrett only works on the Windows side.

Installing and getting started with Data Ferrett:

Go to Data Ferrett.

Survey of Program Participation (SIPP)

Step 1: Get to know the dataset and choose your variables

Documentation: SIPP web site

Video: Understanding SIPP (4:23 min.)


Step 2: Subset and download your data

Video: Downloading SIPP Data with Data Ferrett (on a Mac, 4:18 min.)

Current Population Survey (CPS), March Supplement

Step 1: Get to know the dataset and choose your variables.

Documentation Resources

Video: Understanding the CPS (3:07 min.)


Step 2: Subset and download your data.

Downloading CPS Data with Data Ferrett (on a PC)

Other Possible Data Sources


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