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Consumer Expenditure Surveys

Panel Survey of Income Dynamics

The Panel Survey of Income Dynamics (PSID) is the longest running longitudinal household survey on both a domestic and international scale.1 It was instituted in 1968 to analyze income and poverty dynamics in response to former President Johnson's Great Society but has since then expanded to focus on income and expenditure data at the family and individual level as well as other specialized studies. Such studies include but are not limited to: family structure, disability and time use, child development, as well as wellbeing and daily life.

Release ScheduleAnnual release schedule from 1968-1999, Bi-Annual release schedule since 1999.

Data Source

Data are sourced from an annual survey to now 9,000 family units. Families are followed regardless of where they live. The sample grows naturally as children and grandchildren form their own households and are invited to join.

Data Type

Collection UnitFamily units. Data have been collected on the same group of families and their offspring/descendants dating back to the start of the survey in 1968.

Sample Characteristics

The PSID began following a cluster of 4,802 family units in 1968, drawn from two independent samples. Low-income families were oversampled where they represented 1,872 family units from the Survey of Economic Opportunity (SEO). The remaining 2,930 family units are composed of a nationally representative sample from the University of Michigans Survey Research Center. The active panel of family units adjusts annually based on factors such as individuals moving in and out of home, immigrant refreshers to the sample, demographic inflows such as births, adoptions, and marriages, as well as attritors. For a visual flow chart, reference figure 1 in the 2015 User Guide PDF linked in the methodology section of this table.

Notable Sample Exclusions



Data Comparison

CE estimates from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) and PSID estimates from the University of Michigan are two highly regarded sources for domestic household expenditure data. Although the intent is the same, there exists divergence in how data are categorized, parsed out, and represented in the two respective surveys. Such heterogeneity leads to differences in total expenditures and expenditure breakdown by category. To illustrate this, Chart 1 below provides estimates of total expenditures for both surveys over a 20-year time series. Through 2013, CE estimates remained below its PSID counterpart albeit with a narrowing expenditure gap from 2005 to 2013 with differences ranging from 1.0 to 6.1 percent. Post-2013, CE expenditures, fueled by growth in transportation and housing, exceeded its PSID counterpart. The aforementioned trends can also be related to a change in the structure of the PSID survey itself. Starting in 2015, the PSID survey questionnaire was expanded to collect key expenditure items including internet access, food security, health insurance, and wealth and pensions. For additional information on changes made to the PSID, please see The PSID Main Interview User Manual: Release 2021. For supplemental information on the differences between the two surveys, please see A Comparison of CE and PSID Expenditure Data: 1999-2011.

For more information on the figures outlined in Chart 1 below, please see the PSID tab in CE data comparisons linked below.

Analysis Methodology and Concordance:

CE estimates provided in this survey comparison are annual integrated means and were gathered using the CE's LABSTAT Database which provides time series expenditure data stretching back to 1984.

PSID data was obtained from The University of Michigan's PSID Variable Database. The PSID includes a separate category under food expenditure for "food delivered," separate from "food away from home," which is combined with food away from home to create a comparable category. PSID does not break down its mortgage data under housing into interest and principal as in CE, thus the two were combined in CE for comparison sake. For healthcare, the PSID did not have a medical services category, therefore expenditures on doctors along with nursing home and hospital expenditures were combined for comparison.

Supporting Documentation

  • CE data comparisons (XLSX)

Last Modified Date: January 28, 2022