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The Effect of Unfolding Brackets on the Quality of Wealth Data in the HRS


Author Info

  • F. Thomas Juster

    (University of Michigan)

  • Honggao Cao

    (University of Michigan)

  • Michael Perry

    (University of Michigan)

  • Mick Cooper

    (University of Michigan)


A characteristic feature of survey data on household wealth is the high incidence of missing data—roughly one in three respondents who report owning an asset are unable or unwilling to provide an estimate of the exact amount of their holding. A partial solution to that problem is to devise a series of questions that put the respondent’s holdings into a quantitative range (less than x, more than x, or what?). These quantitative ranges are called unfolding brackets, and they represent a survey innovation that aims to improve the quality of wealth data by substituting range data for completely missing data. In this paper, we examine the effect of unfolding brackets on the quality of HRS wealth data. Special attention is given to the impact of unfolding bracket entry points on the distribution of asset holdings in HRS 1998. Although there is a small positive relationship between mean asset holdings and entry point, there are many cases where that relationship does not hold. In general, our conclusion is that entry point bias problems are not a major concern in the evaluation of quality in the 1998 HRS wealth data.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by University of Michigan, Michigan Retirement Research Center in its series Working Papers with number wp113.

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Length: 49 pages
Date of creation: Jan 2006
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:mrr:papers:wp113

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  1. Tversky, Amos & Kahneman, Daniel, 1986. "Rational Choice and the Framing of Decisions," The Journal of Business, University of Chicago Press, vol. 59(4), pages S251-78, October.
  2. Hurd, M., 1999. "Anchoring and Acquiescence Bias in Measuring Assets in Households Surveys," Papers 99-02, RAND - Labor and Population Program.
  3. F. Thomas Juster & James P. Smith, 2004. "Improving the Quality of Economic Data: Lessons from the HRS and AHEAD," Labor and Demography 0402010, EconWPA.
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Cited by:
  1. Michelle Sovinsky & Steven Stern, 2013. "Dynamic modelling of long-term care decisions," ECON - Working Papers 113, Department of Economics - University of Zurich.
  2. Michelle Sovinsky & Steven Stern, 2012. "Dynamic Modelling of Long-Term Care Decisions," Working Papers 2012-019, Human Capital and Economic Opportunity Working Group.


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