How Reliable are Income Data Collected with a Single Question?
AbstractIncome is an important correlate for numerous phenomena in the social sciences. But many surveys collect data with just a single question covering all forms of income. This raises questions over the reliability of the data collected. Issues of reliability are heightened when individuals are asked about the household total rather than own income alone. We argue that the large literature on measuring incomes has not devoted enough attention to â€˜single-questionâ€™ surveys. We investigate the reliability of single-question data using the ONS Omnibus survey and British Social Attitudes (BSA) survey as examples. We compare the distributions of income in these surveys â€“ individual income in the Omnibus and household income in the BSA --- with those in two larger UK surveys that measure income in much greater detail. Distributions compare less well for household income than for individual income. Disaggregation by gender proves fruitful in much of the analysis. We also establish levels of item non-response to the income question in single-question surveys from a wide range of countries.
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Bibliographic InfoPaper provided by Department of Quantitative Social Science - Institute of Education, University of London in its series DoQSS Working Papers with number 09-03.
Length: 36 pages
Date of creation: 01 Dec 2009
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Publication status: forthcoming in the Journal of the Royal Statistical Society (Series A)
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income measurement; validity;
Other versions of this item:
- John Micklewright & Sylke V. Schnepf, 2010. "How reliable are income data collected with a single question?," Journal of the Royal Statistical Society Series A, Royal Statistical Society, vol. 173(2), pages 409-429.
- Micklewright, John & Schnepf, Sylke V., 2007. "How Reliable Are Income Data Collected with a Single Question?," IZA Discussion Papers 3177, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
- C81 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Data Collection and Data Estimation Methodology; Computer Programs - - - Methodology for Collecting, Estimating, and Organizing Microeconomic Data
This paper has been announced in the following NEP Reports:
- NEP-ALL-2009-12-19 (All new papers)
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- Thomas F. Crossley & Joachim K. Winter, 2012.
"Asking Households about Expenditures: What Have We Learned?,"
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National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
- Thomas F. Crossley & Joachim K. Winter, 2013. "Asking Households About Expenditures: What Have We Learned?," NBER Working Papers 19543, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
- Jake Anders, 2012. "Using the Longitudinal Study of Young People in England for research into Higher Education access," DoQSS Working Papers 12-13, Department of Quantitative Social Science - Institute of Education, University of London.
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