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Viewpoint: Further results on measuring the well-being of the poor using income and consumption

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  • Bruce D. Meyer
  • James X. Sullivan

Abstract

We evaluate the relative merits of income- and consumption-based measures of well-being. Our results provide evidence that consumption better captures well-being for those with few resources. The bottom deciles of expenditures exceed those of income, suggesting under-reporting of income. The under-reporting rate for government transfers is high and rising. Overall non-response is more severe in U.S. income data than in expenditure data. Furthermore, a consumption data set requires fewer observations than an income data set to obtain the same level of precision for typical estimates. Finally, very low consumption is more strongly related to other bad outcomes than very low income.

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Bibliographic Info

Article provided by Canadian Economics Association in its journal Canadian Journal of Economics.

Volume (Year): 44 (2011)
Issue (Month): 1 (February)
Pages: 52-87

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Handle: RePEc:cje:issued:v:44:y:2011:i:1:p:52-87

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Cited by:
  1. Jurgen Faik & Uwe Fachinger, 2013. "The decomposition of well-being categories: An application to Germany," Working Papers 307, ECINEQ, Society for the Study of Economic Inequality.
  2. Miriam Hortas-Rico & Jorge Onrubia & Daniele Pacifico, 2010. "Estimating the Personal Income Distribution in Spanish Municipalities Using Tax Micro-Data," International Center for Public Policy Working Paper Series, at AYSPS, GSU paper1419, International Center for Public Policy, Andrew Young School of Policy Studies, Georgia State University.
  3. Adam Bee & Bruce D. Meyer & James X. Sullivan, 2013. "The Validity of Consumption Data: Are the Consumer Expenditure Interview and Diary Surveys Informative?," NBER Chapters, in: Improving the Measurement of Consumer Expenditures National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  4. Bruce D. Meyer & James X. Sullivan, 2012. "Identifying the Disadvantaged: Official Poverty, Consumption Poverty, and the New Supplemental Poverty Measure," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 26(3), pages 111-36, Summer.
  5. Richard Finlay & Fiona Price, 2014. "Household Saving in Australia," RBA Research Discussion Papers rdp2014-03, Reserve Bank of Australia.
  6. Bruce D. Meyer & Wallace K. C. Mok, 2006. "Disability, Earnings, Income and Consumption," Working Papers 0610, Harris School of Public Policy Studies, University of Chicago.

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