Monday, March 22, 2010

Survey of Income and Program Participation (SIPP): Topical Questions on Disability

My search for disability statistics led me to the 314-page 2008 Panel Core Questionnaire for the U.S. Census Bureau's Survey of Income and Program Participation (SIPP).  While the Core Questionnaire did have some disability-related questions, those questions tended not to ask about the nature or extent of a disability; the concern was, rather, with whether the disability interfered with (or was perhaps the source of) the respondent's income and benefits.  It seemed that disability-oriented topical questions posed to the SIPP's 2008 Panel of respondents would shed more light on the nature and extent of disabilities experienced by people in the United States.

As with the Core Questionnaires, the Census Bureau's SIPP website did not provide ready links to its Topical Module Questionnaires after 2004.  Fortunately, the 2008 Panel SIPP Data Product Schedule found on one of the pages in that website indicated that data collection for the Work Disability History module was scheduled to take place as part of Wave 2, in January through April 2009, and that the corresponding data products were expected to be released in April 2010.  Data collection for the other disability-related Topical Modules, Functional Limitations and Disability for adults and children, was scheduled to take place as part of Wave 6, in summer 2010, with data products being released in September 2011.

By pleasant coincidence, the 2008 Panel Wave 6 Topical Modules seemed to be included on the same page from which I had previously obtained the 2008 Panel Core Questionnaire, so it was easy to get the Wave 6 modules.  The link provided on that page produced an 82-page Wave 6 Topical Modules Items Booklet, in which the Functional Limitations and Disability section ran from pages 31 to 53.  A preliminary look at some of these questions confirmed that they were not at all limited to income production, as had been the case with disability-related questions in the Core Questionnaire.

The remaining step was to find the Wave 2 Topical Modules Booklet that would hopefully include the Work Disability History module.  A search led to a Federal Register entry that cited the same OMB Control Number 0607-0944 that had applied to the 2008 Panel Core Questionnaire.  A search for that number led to a different page, where I downloaded a 2008 Panel Wave 2 Topical Modules Items Booklet, in which the Work Disability Topical Module appeared on pages 1 through 5 (PDF pages 3 through 7).  As the "work disability" moniker suggests, the questions in this module appeared to be oriented toward disabilities that interfered with work.

My ultimate purpose, in this pursuit, was to become informed on defensible ways of estimating the numbers of persons with disabilities in a particular location.  The page counts (above) told me that I was likely to get a more extensive treatment of disability concepts in the Wave 6 Topical Module, and it also seemed that that module's questions would take a broader perspective on the meaning of disability.  In a subsequent post, I look more closely into that module.