Like most labor market surveys, the CPS collects demographic information on respondents. Often times, this information is used by researchers to parse the data and examine subgroups of the population. Some of the major categories of demographic information collected are listed below. Note that all variables discussed reference the most recent iteration of those variables in the data dictionaries and that these variables may have changed over time.
The variable PESEX provides information on the respondent’s gender. This is the only information related to sex or gender available in the basic monthly CPS.
PEMARITL provides detailed information on the marital status of the respondent. Answers include married with a spouse absent or present, widowed, divorced, separated, and never married. PESPOUSE also provides a means to identify the individual’s spouse in the survey.
Children and other relationships
A few questions in the CPS identify parental relationships between individuals. PEPARENT provides a means of identifying a respondent’s parent within the sample. PRCHLD and PRNMCHLD indicate the presence and age of children in the household. PRFAMREL details family relationships to the reference person in the household. PERRP provides a detailed relationship status for all individuals in the household, including non-family members.
PRTAGE provides the respondent’s age from 0 to 79 years old. Individuals who are 80–84 years old are coded as being “80,” and individuals 85 years of age and older are coded as “85.” This top coding can be identified using the related variable PRTFAGE.
PEEDUCA provides information on the highest level of school completed or the degree received for each respondent. PEDIPGED asks how individuals obtained their high school diplomas if they received them. PEHGCOMP specifically asks individuals who acquired their GED what their highest level of regular school completed was prior to obtaining a GED.
PESCHENR and PRNLFSCH determine whether the respondent is currently in school. PESCHFT and PESCHLVL look at whether individuals in school are full-time or part-time students at a high school, college, or university.
Race and Ethnicity
The race variable, currently known as PTDTRACE, provides information on a respondent’s race. Over the life of the CPS, the race variable has changed considerably, now providing greater detail. There is an additional race variable called PRDASIAN that provides greater detail on Asian race identification for those individuals who identify as Asian.
In addition to the above race information, the CPS also asks for information on Hispanic origin. Specifically, PEHSPNON identifies a respondent as Hispanic or non-Hispanic and PRDTHSP provides the accompanying Hispanic origin group.