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Measurement Errors in Recall Food Expenditure Data

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  • Naeem Ahmed
  • Matthew Brzozowski
  • Thomas F. Crossley

Abstract

Household expenditure data is an important input into the study of consumption and savings behaviour and of living standards and inequality. Because it is collected in many surveys, food expenditure data has formed the basis of much work in these areas. Recently, there has been considerable interest in properties of different ways of collecting expenditure information. It has also been suggested that measurement error in expenditure data seriously affects empirical work based on such data. The Canadian Food Expenditure Survey asks respondents to first estimate their household's food expenditures and then record food expenditures in a diary for two weeks. This unique experiment allows us to compare recall and diary based expenditure data collected from the same individuals. Under the assumption that the diary measures are "true" food consumption, this allows us to observe errors in measures of recall food consumption directly, and to study the properties of those errors. Under this assumption, measurement errors in recall food consumption data appear to be substantial, and they do not have many of the properties of classical measurement error. In particular, they are neither uncorrelated with true consumption nor conditionally homoscedastic. In addition, they are not well approximated by either a normal or log normal distribution. We also show evidence that diary measures are themselves imperfect, suffering for example, from "diary exhaustion". This suggests alternative interpretations for the differences between recall and diary consumption measures. Finally, we compare estimates of income and household size elasticities of per capita food consumption based on the two kinds of expenditure data and, in contrast to some previous work, find little difference between the two.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by McMaster University in its series Quantitative Studies in Economics and Population Research Reports with number 396.

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Length: 47 pages
Date of creation: Oct 2005
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:mcm:qseprr:396

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Keywords: expenditure; consumption; surveys;

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References

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  1. John Gibson, 2002. "Why Does the Engel Method Work? Food Demand, Economies of Size and Household Survey Methods," Working Papers in Economics 02/02, University of Waikato, Department of Economics.
  2. Joseph G. Altonji & Aloysius Siow, 1986. "Testing the Response of Consumption to Income Changes with (Noisy) PanelData," NBER Working Papers 2012, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. Martin Browning & Sule Alan, 2006. "Estimating Euler Equations with Noisy Data: Two Exact GMM Estimators," Economics Series Working Papers 283, University of Oxford, Department of Economics.
  4. Orazio P. Attanasio & Hamish Low, 2004. "Estimating Euler Equations," Review of Economic Dynamics, Elsevier for the Society for Economic Dynamics, vol. 7(2), pages 405-435, April.
  5. Isabel McWhinney & Harold Champion, 1974. "The Canadian Experience With Recall And Diary Methods In Consumer Expenditure Surveys," NBER Chapters, in: Annals of Economic and Social Measurement, Volume 3, number 2, pages 113-140 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  6. Martin Browning & Thomas F. Crossley & Guglielmo Weber, 2003. "Asking consumption questions in general purpose surveys," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 113(491), pages F540-F567, November.
  7. Sule Alan & Martin Browning, 2003. "Estimating Intertemporal Allocation Parameters using Simulated Residual Estimation," CAM Working Papers 2003-03, University of Copenhagen. Department of Economics. Centre for Applied Microeconometrics.
  8. Angus Deaton & Christina Paxson, 1998. "Economies of Scale, Household Size, and the Demand for Food," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 106(5), pages 897-930, October.
  9. Amemiya, Yasuo, 1985. "Instrumental variable estimator for the nonlinear errors-in-variables model," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 28(3), pages 273-289, June.
  10. Bound, John & Brown, Charles & Mathiowetz, Nancy, 2001. "Measurement error in survey data," Handbook of Econometrics, in: J.J. Heckman & E.E. Leamer (ed.), Handbook of Econometrics, edition 1, volume 5, chapter 59, pages 3705-3843 Elsevier.
  11. Keen, Michael, 1986. "Zero Expenditures and the Estimation of Engel Curves," Journal of Applied Econometrics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 1(3), pages 277-86, July.
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Cited by:
  1. Barrett, Garry F. & Brzozowski, Matthew, 2010. "Involuntary Retirement and the Resolution of the Retirement-Consumption Puzzle: Evidence from Australia," Working Papers 2010-10, University of Sydney, School of Economics.

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