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Measuring household spending and payment habits: the role of “typical” and “specific” time frames in survey questions

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  • Marco Angrisani
  • Arie Kapteyn
  • Scott Schuh

Abstract

We designed and fielded an experimental module in the American Life Panel (ALP) where we ask individuals to report the number of their purchases and the amount paid by debit cards, cash, credit cards, and personal checks. The design of the experiment features several stages of randomization. First, three different groups of sample participants are randomly assigned to an entry month (July, August, or September, 2011) and are to be interviewed four times during a year, once every quarter. Second, for each method of payment a sequence of questions elicits spending behavior during a day, week, month, and year. At the time of the first interview, this sequence is randomly assigned to refer to “specific” time spans or to “typical” time spans. In all subsequent interviews, a “specific” sequence becomes a “typical” sequence and vice versa. In this paper, we analyze the data from the first wave of the survey. We show that the type— specific or typical— and length of recall periods greatly influence household reporting behavior.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Federal Reserve Bank of Boston in its series Working Papers with number 12-7.

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Date of creation: 2012
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Handle: RePEc:fip:fedbwp:12-7

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Keywords: Payment systems ; Debit cards ; Cash transactions ; Credit cards ; Checks ; Consumer surveys;

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  1. Kevin Foster & Erik Meijer & Scott Schuh & Michael A. Zabek, 2011. "The 2009 survey of consumer payment choice," Public Policy Discussion Paper 11-1, Federal Reserve Bank of Boston.
  2. Schuh, Scott & Stavins, Joanna, 2010. "Why are (some) consumers (finally) writing fewer checks? The role of payment characteristics," Journal of Banking & Finance, Elsevier, vol. 34(8), pages 1745-1758, August.
  3. Blundell, Richard & Meghir, Costas, 1987. "Bivariate alternatives to the Tobit model," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 34(1-2), pages 179-200.
  4. Chesher, Andrew & Irish, Margaret, 1987. "Residual analysis in the grouped and censored normal linear model," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 34(1-2), pages 33-61.
  5. Robin, Jean-Marc, 1993. "Econometric Analysis of the Short-Run Fluctuations of Households' Purchases," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 60(4), pages 923-34, October.
  6. Deaton, Angus & Irish, Margaret, 1984. "Statistical models for zero expenditures in household budgets," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 23(1-2), pages 59-80.
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