In December 2017, the Urban Institute launched the Well-Being and Basic Needs Survey (WBNS) to monitor changes in individual and family health and well-being at a time when policymakers seek significant changes to programs that help low-income families pay for food, health care, housing, and other basic needs. The new annual survey is a key component of the Institute’s From Safety Net to Solid Ground project supported by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and other foundations.
This brief describes the design and content of the WBNS. To assess the capacity of the WBNS to produce nationally representative estimates for the nonelderly adult population, we also report findings from a benchmarking analysis in which we compare estimates from the WBNS with estimates from established federal surveys. We find that, despite some discrepancies, most indicators based on data from the WBNS are reasonably consistent with measures from larger federal surveys, suggesting the WBNS data will serve as a credible source of information for analyses of health and well-being within the Safety Net to Solid Ground project.