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Making full use of the longitudinal design of the Current Population Survey: Methods for linking records across 16 months\m{1}


Data from the Current Population Survey (CPS) are rarely analyzed in a way that takes advantage of the CPS's longitudinal design. This is mainly because of the technical difficulties associated with linking CPS files across months. In this paper, we describe the method we are using to create unique identifiers for all CPS person and household records from 1989 onward. These identifiers – available along with CPS basic and supplemental data as part of the on-line Integrated Public Use Microdata Series (IPUMS) – make it dramatically easier to use CPS data for longitudinal research across any number of substantive domains. To facilitate the use of these new longitudinal IPUMS-CPS data, we also outline seven different ways that researchers may choose to link CPS person records across months, and we describe the sample sizes and sample retention rates associated with these seven designs. Finally, we discuss a number of unique methodological challenges that researchers will confront when analyzing data from linked CPS files.