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Cutoff for original poverty status, in dollars


CUTOFF is a 6-digit numeric variable.

999999 = N.I.U. (Not in Universe)


The CUTOFF variable is located on the person record, although it treats respondents who live in families collectively. CUTOFF is the official poverty threshold used by the Census Bureau to evaluate the poverty status (POVERTY) of each family in the sample. For instance, for a family consisting of 2 individuals, both of whom are under 65, with no children, the poverty threshold in 1989 was 7,495 dollars. If a sampled family of this composition reported income below 7,495 dollars in that year, then they would be coded as "below poverty" in the POVERTY variable. CUTOFF uses Census-defined family units, which do not necessarily correspond to the IPUMS-derived family units as specified in FAMUNIT. See FTYPE, FAMKIND, and FAMREL for more on Census family units.

The poverty index was adopted by a Federal Interagency Committee in 1969 and slightly modified in 1981. The modified index provides a range of income cutoffs or "poverty thresholds," adjusted to take into account family size, number of children, and age of the family householder or unrelated individual. Prior to 1981, adjustments were also made on the basis of farm versus non-farm residence and the sex of the householder. The impact of these revisions on the poverty estimates is minimal at the national level.

The poverty cutoffs are updated every year to reflect changes in the Consumer Price Index. For a detailed explanation of the poverty definition, see Current Population Reports, Series P-60, No. 154, Money Income and Poverty Status of Persons in the United States: 1988.


Apart from universe changes and annual changes in values tied to the Consumer Price Index, the variable is comparable over time.


  • 1968-1975: All persons except for secondary individuals under 14.
  • 1976+: All persons.


Years Jan Feb ASEC Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
1968 – 2023 - - X - - - - - - - - -


This variable has no flags.