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Person's imputed total earnings, previous calendar year

Codes and Frequencies

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EARNIMP3 is a variable that includes imputed values to replace missing data for the original variable EARNINGS, a recoded variable reporting total personal earnings in the previous calendar year. The complementary imputation flag variable IMPEARNFLAG3 indicates whether responses in EARNIMP3 were reported or imputed.

Related Variables and Sources of Additional Information

EARNIMP3 is the third of five variables that contain imputed values for personal earnings. It was created as part of a set of variables that provide complete (i.e., without missing values) data on family income.


One of the purposes of NHIS data is to study relationships between income and health and to monitor health and health care for persons at different income levels. However, non-response rates are high for questions on total family income and personal earnings from employment in the previous calendar year. To obtain estimates of these variables for all survey participants, the National Center for Health Statistics created variables with values imputed for missing data for 1997 forward, using multiple-imputation methodology. The NHIS public use files with multiply imputed data consist of five files (and thus five versions of variables containing imputed values for missing data), one for each set of imputed values, to allow the assessment of variability due to imputation. For more information on the imputation methodology, see EMPSTATIMP1.

Before using the imputed income and earnings variables, researchers are strongly advised to read the NCHS documentation on imputed income.



The comparability of EARNIMP3 over time (and all the EARNIMP variables) is limited by changes in the number of recoded income categories, in the topcoded category, and in what counted as "earnings" in the original variable EARNINGS. See EARNIMP1 for a description of these changes.


  • 1997-2000: Persons age 18+ who worked at a job or business last week, or who did not work last week but worked for pay in the last year.
  • 2001-2018: Persons age 18+ worked for pay last year, or whose employment status is imputed as employed for pay.


  • 1997-2018