We introduce and provide the first comprehensive comparative assessment of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York/Equifax Consumer Credit Panel (CCP) as a valuable and underutilized data set for studying internal migration within the United States. Relative to other data sources on US internal migration, the CCP permits highly detailed cross-sectional and longitudinal analyses of migration, both temporally and geographically. We compare cross-sectional and longitudinal estimates of migration from the CCP to similar estimates derived from the American Community Survey, the Current Population Survey, Internal Revenue Service data, the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth, the Panel Study of Income Dynamics, and the Survey of Income and Program Participation. Our results establish the comparative utility and illustrate some of the unique advantages of the CCP relative to other data sources on US internal migration. We conclude by identifying some profitable directions for future research on US internal migration using the CCP, as well as reminding readers of the strengths and limitations of these data. More broadly, this paper contributes to discussions and debates on improving the availability, quality, and comparability of migration data.
This paper demonstrates that credit bureau data, such as the Federal Reserve Bank of New York Consumer Credit Panel/Equifax (CCP), can be used to study internal migration in the United States. It is comparable to, and in some ways superior to, the standard data used to study migration, including the American Community Survey (ACS), the Current Population Survey (CPS), and the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) county-to-county migration data. CCP-based estimates of migration intensity, connectivity, and spatial focusing are similar to estimates derived from the ACS, CPS, and IRS data. The CCP can measure block-to-block migration and it is available at quarterly rather than annual frequencies. Migrants’ precise origins are not available in public versions of the ACS, CPS, or IRS data. We report measures of migration from the CCP data at finer geographies and time intervals. Finally, we disaggregate migration flows into first-, second-, and higher-order moves. Individual-level panels in the CCP make this possible, giving the CCP an additional advantage over the ACS, CPS, or publicly available IRS data.