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Consumer Expenditure Survey, 2004: Interview Survey and Detailed Expenditure Files (ICPSR 4416)

Published: Aug 1, 2013

Principal Investigator(s):
United States Department of Labor. Bureau of Labor Statistics


Version V2

The Consumer Expenditure Survey (CE) program provides a continuous and comprehensive flow of data on the buying habits of American consumers including data on their expenditures, income, and consumer unit (families and single consumers) characteristics. These data are used widely in economic research and analysis, and in support of revisions of the Consumer Price Index.

The CE program is comprised of two separate components (each with its own questionnaire and independent sample), the quarterly Interview Survey and the Diary Survey (ICPSR 4415). This data collection contains the quarterly Interview Survey data, which was designed to collect data on major items of expense which respondents could be expected to recall for 3 months or longer. These included relatively large expenditures, such as those for property, automobiles, and major durable goods, and those that occurred on a regular basis, such as rent or utilities. The Interview Survey does not collect data on expenses for housekeeping supplies, personal care products, and nonprescription drugs, which contribute about 5 to 15 percent of total expenditures.

The microdata in this collection are available as SAS, SPSS, and STATA datasets or ASCII comma-delimited files. The 2004 Interview Survey release contains five groups of Interview data files (FMLY, MEMB, MTAB, ITAB, and ITAB_IMPUTE), 50 EXPN files, and four processing files.

The FMLY, MEMB, MTAB, ITAB, and ITAB_IMPUTE files are organized by the calendar quarter of the year in which the data were collected. There are five quarterly datasets for each of these files, running from the first quarter of 2004 through the first quarter of 2005. The FMLY file contains consumer unit (CU) characteristics, income, and summary level expenditures; the MEMB file contains member characteristics and income data; the MTAB file contains expenditures organized on a monthly basis at the Universal Classification Code (UCC) level; the ITAB file contains income data converted to a monthly time frame and assigned to UCCs; and the ITAB_IMPUTE file contains the five imputation variants of the income data converted to a monthly time frame and assigned to UCCs.

The EXPN files contain expenditure data and ancillary descriptive information, often not available on the FMLY or MTAB files, in a format similar to the Interview questionnaire. In addition to the extra information available on the EXPN files, users can identify distinct spending categories easily and reduce processing time due to the organization of the files by type of expenditure. Each of the 50 EXPN files contains five quarters of data, directly derived from their respective questionnaire sections.

The processing files enhance computer processing and tabulation of data, and provide descriptive information on item codes. The processing files are: (1) aggregation scheme files used in the published consumer expenditure survey interview tables and integrated tables (ISTUB and INTSTUB), (2) a UCC file that contains UCCs and their abbreviated titles, identifying the expenditure, income, or demographic item represented by each UCC, (3) two vehicle make and model files (VEHI and CAPIVEHI), and (4) files containing sample programs (See Section VII.A. SAMPLE PROGRAM). The processing files are further explained in the Interview User Guide, Section III.F.6. "PROCESSING FILES." There is also a second user guide, User's Guide to Income Imputation in the CE, which includes information on how to appropriately use the imputed income data.

Demographic and family characteristics data include age, sex, race, marital status, and CU relationships for each CU member. Income information, such as wage, salary, unemployment compensation, child support, and alimony, as well as information on the employment of each CU member age 14 and over was also collected.

United States Department of Labor. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Consumer Expenditure Survey, 2004: Interview Survey and Detailed Expenditure Files. Ann Arbor, MI: Inter-university Consortium for Political and Social Research [distributor], 2013-08-01.

Export Citation:

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2004 -- 2005

These data are distributed exactly as they arrived from the data depositor. ICPSR has not checked or processed this material. Users should consult the investigators if further information is desired.

The Interview User Guide documentation does not include an explanation of all information in the EXPN files. Users are strongly encouraged to refer to the questionnaire. Survey forms, as well as the CAPI questionnaire, are available on the Consumer Expenditure Survey Web site.

For additional information on the Consumer Expenditure Survey (CE) program, please visit the Consumer Expenditure (CE) Web site.

Every record from each data file includes the variable NEWID, the CU's unique identification number, which is used to link records of one CU from several files across all quarters in which they participate.

National probability sample of households designed to represent the total noninstitutional civilian population.

Noninstitutional civilian population of the United States.

survey data

computer-assisted personal interview (CAPI)

face-to-face interview



2013-08-01 These files are an update to the original files and have replaced the previous version now making STATA, SPSS, and comma-delimited files available to accompany SAS and ASCII-column parameter files.

The files include weights needed to calculate population estimates and variances. There are 45 weights associated with each consumer unit. Please refer to the User Guide documentation for a detailed explanation of the weight variables used.


  • Data in this collection are available only to users at ICPSR member institutions.

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