Linking ATUS and CPS Data

Households chosen for participation in the American Time Use Survey (ATUS) are selected randomly from households that are exiting from participation in the Current Population Survey (CPS). For addressing certain questions, researchers may wish to create data files that combine information from the ATUS with data for the same individuals collected during CPS interviews in which their households participated.

The design of the CPS calls for selected housing units to participate in the survey for four successive months, be out of the sample for eight months, and then return for four additional months. This sample rotation pattern means that each housing unit selected for the CPS remains in the sample for a total of eight months spread out over a period of sixteen months. In addition to completing the basic CPS interview in each of these eight months, households may also have completed a number of CPS supplement interviews. It should be noted that some people will spend fewer than eight months in the CPS sample, since it is the current occupants of the designated housing units rather than a fixed set of individuals who are interviewed.

As already noted, the ATUS sample is chosen from among households who complete a wave eight basic CPS interview. The BLS makes available special data files that include most of the information from the final basic CPS interview completed by each ATUS sample household. Almost all of this information can be accessed directly through the ATUS Data Extract Builder (ATUS-X). Anyone seeking to analyze ATUS data in conjunction with basic CPS data from any of the first seven months a household is in the CPS sample or in conjunction with data from any of the CPS supplements in which these households may have participated during their eight months in the CPS sample will need to create their own linked data files. Future versions of the ATUS-X will incorporate data from CPS supplements in which ATUS households participated, but that is not a feature of the current version of ATUS-X.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics has developed detailed instructions for linking ATUS and CPS data files. One thing you need to know if you plan to use these instructions is that the names of the variables on data extracts created using ATUS-X are not the same as the names on the original ATUS data files. In order to link ATUS-X data sets to CPS data, you will need to rename some of the variables on the ATUS-X data file or create copies of those variables that have names that match the names of the variables on the original ATUS files. The variables that will need to be renamed or copied may include some or all of the following:

Variable Name on ATUS-X File Variable Name on Original ATUS File
HRHHID_CPS8 HRHHID
LINENO_CPS8 PULINENO
MONTH_CPS8 HRMONTH
YEAR_CPS8 HRYEAR4
HRSERSUF_CPS8 HRSERSUF
HUHHNUM_CPS8 HUHHNUM
HRSAMPLE_CPS8 HRSAMPLE
HRHHID2_CPS8 HRHHID2
AGE_CPS8 PRTAGE
SEX_CPS8 PESEX
RACE PRDTRACE

Once you have the proper variables with the names shown in the right hand column above in your data file, you can apply the linking instructions developed by the BLS.

For your convenience, available files containing data from CPS supplements carried out between 2002 and 2007 that can be matched to ATUS-X data files are listed below:

2002

  • January 2002: Displaced Worker, Employee Tenure, and Occupational Mobility Supplement
  • February 2002: Tobacco Use Supplement
  • March 2002: Annual Demographic
  • March/April 2002 Match File: Child Support
  • June 2002: Fertility
  • August 2002: Public Participation in the Arts Supplement
  • September 2002: Volunteer Supplement
  • October 2002: School Enrollment/Library Use Supplement
  • November 2002: Voting and Registration Supplement
  • December 2002: Food Security Supplement

2003

  • February, June, and November 2003: Tobacco Use Supplement
  • March 2003: Annual Social and Economic (ASEC) Supplement
  • August 2003: Veterans Supplement
  • September 2003: Volunteer Supplement
  • October 2003: School Enrollment and Computer Use Supplement
  • December 2003: Food Security Supplement

2004

  • 2004: Cell Phone Supplement
  • January 2004: Displaced Workers, Employee Tenure, and Occupational Mobility Supplement
  • March 2004: Annual Social and Economic (ASEC) Supplement
  • March/April 2004 Match File: Child Support
  • May 2004: Work Schedules and Work at Home Supplement
  • June 2004: Fertility Supplement
  • September 2004: Volunteer Supplement
  • October 2004: School Enrollment, Language Proficiency and Disability Supplement
  • November 2004: Voting and Registration Supplement
  • December 2004: Food Security Supplement

2005

  • February 2005: Contingent Work Supplement
  • March 2005: Annual Social and Economic (ASEC) Supplement
  • May 2005: Unemployment Insurance (UI) Non-Filers Supplement
  • August 2005: Veterans Supplement
  • September 2005: Volunteer Supplement
  • October 2005: School Enrollment Supplement
  • December 2005: Food Security Supplement

2006

  • January 2006: Displaced Worker, Employee Tenure and Occupational Mobility Supplement
  • March 2006: Annual Social and Economic (ASEC) Supplement
  • March/April Match File: Child Support
  • May and August 2006: Tobacco Use Supplement
  • June 2006: Fertility Supplement
  • September 2006: Volunteer Supplement
  • October 2006: School Enrollment Supplement
  • November 2006: Voting and Registration Supplement
  • December 2006: Food Security Supplement

2007

  • January 2007: Tobacco Use Supplement
  • March 2007: Annual Social and Economic (ASEC) Supplement
  • August 2007: Veterans Supplement
  • September 2007: Volunteer Supplement
  • October 2007: School Enrollment and Internet Use Supplement
  • December 2007: Food Security Supplement

2008

  • January 2008: Displaced Worker, Employee Tenure, and Occupational Mobility Supplement
  • March 2008: Annual Social and Economic (ASEC) Supplement
  • May 2008: Public Participation in the Arts Supplement
  • June 2008: Fertility Supplement
  • September 2008: Volunteer Supplement
  • October 2008: School Enrollment Supplement
  • November 2008: Voting and Registration Supplement
  • November 2008: Civic Engagement Supplement
  • December 2008: Food Security Supplement

2009

  • January 2009: Unbanked/Underbanked Supplement
  • March 2009: Annual Social and Economic (ASEC) Supplement
  • August 2009: Veterans Supplement
  • September 2009: Volunteer Supplement
  • October 2009: School Enrollment and Internet Use Supplement
  • December 2009: Food Security Supplement

2010

  • January 2010: Displaced Workers, Employee Tenure, and Occupational Mobility Supplement
  • March 2010: Annual Social and Economic (ASEC) Supplement
  • March/April Match File: Child Support
  • May 2010: Tobacco Use Supplement
  • June 2010: Fertility Supplement
  • July 2010: Veterans Supplement
  • August 2010: Tobacco Use Supplement
  • September 2010: Volunteer Supplement
  • October 2010: School Enrollment and Internet Use Supplement
  • November 2010: Voting and Registration Supplement
  • November 2010: Civic Engagement Supplement
  • December 2010: Food Security Supplement

2011

  • January 2011: Tobacco Use Supplement
  • March 2011: Annual Social and Economic (ASEC) Supplement
  • June 2011: Unbanked/Underbanked Supplement
  • July 2011: Computer and Internet Use Supplement
  • August 2011: Veterans Supplement
  • September 2011: Volunteer Supplement
  • October 2011: School Enrollment Supplement
  • December 2011: Food Security Supplement

2012

  • January 2012: Displaced Workers, Employee Tenure, and Occupational Mobility Supplement
  • March 2012: Annual Social and Economic (ASEC) Supplement
  • June 2012: Fertility Supplement
  • August 2012: Veterans Supplement
  • September 2012: Volunteer Supplement
  • November 2012: Voting and Registration Supplement
  • December 2012: Food Security Supplement

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, August 2013.

CPS data may be obtained from websites maintained by the BLS and the U.S. Census Bureau. Alternatively, many researchers find it easier to obtain these same data from the National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) website. Click on the Data tab at the top of the page, then on NBER Collection, then scroll down and click on Current Population Survey under the Individual Data heading. Choose between Basic Monthly Data and CPS Supplements. Both data files and documentation may be downloaded without charge from the NBER website. Harmonized monthly CPS data may also be obtained from IPUMS-CPS.