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What Really Happened to Consumption Inequality in the US?

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  • Orazio Attanasio
  • Erich Battistin
  • Hidehiko Ichimura

Abstract

This paper considers data quality issues for the analysis of consumption inequality exploiting two complementary datasets from the Consumer Expenditure Survey for the United States. The Interview sample follows survey households over four calendar quarters and consists of retrospectively collected information about monthly expenditures on durable and non-durable goods. The Diary sample interviews household for two consecutive weeks and includes detailed information about frequently purchased items (food, personal cares and household supplies). Most reliable information from each sample is exploited to derive a correction for the measurement error affecting observed measures of consumption inequality in the two surveys. We find that consumption inequality, as measured by the standard deviation of log non-durable consumption, has increased by roughly 5% points during the 1990s.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 10338.

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Date of creation: Mar 2004
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Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:10338

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  1. Guido Imbens, 2000. "Efficient Estimation of Average Treatment Effects Using the Estimated Propensity Score," Econometric Society World Congress 2000 Contributed Papers 1166, Econometric Society.
  2. Deaton, A. & Paxson, C., 1993. "Intertemporal Choice and Inequality," Papers 168, Princeton, Woodrow Wilson School - Development Studies.
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  4. Dirk Krueger & Fabrizio Perri, 2004. "On the Welfare Consequences of the Increase in Inequality in the United States," NBER Chapters, in: NBER Macroeconomics Annual 2003, Volume 18, pages 83-138 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  5. Orazio P. Attanasio & Guglielmo Weber, 1994. "Is Consumption Growth Consistent with Intertemporal Optimization? Evidence from the Consumer Expenditure Survey," NBER Working Papers 4795, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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  8. Mace, Barbara J, 1991. "Full Insurance in the Presence of Aggregate Uncertainty," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 99(5), pages 928-56, October.
  9. Richard Blundell & Ian Preston, 1998. "Consumption Inequality And Income Uncertainty," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 113(2), pages 603-640, May.
  10. Erich Battistin, 2002. "Errors in Survey Reports of Consumption Expenditures," 10th International Conference on Panel Data, Berlin, July 5-6, 2002 C4-2, International Conferences on Panel Data.
  11. Slesnick, Daniel T, 1993. "Gaining Ground: Poverty in the Postwar United States," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 101(1), pages 1-38, February.
  12. Richard Blundell & Luigi Pistaferri & Ian Preston, 2002. "Partial insurance, information and consumption dynamics," IFS Working Papers W02/16, Institute for Fiscal Studies.
  13. Orazio Attanasio & Steven J. Davis, 1994. "Relative Wage Movements and the Distribution of Consumption," NBER Working Papers 4771, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  14. Cochrane, John H, 1991. "A Simple Test of Consumption Insurance," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 99(5), pages 957-76, October.
  15. Campbell, John, 1993. "Intertemporal Asset Pricing Without Consumption Data," Scholarly Articles 3221491, Harvard University Department of Economics.
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