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Experimental Tests of Survey Responses to Expenditure Questions

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  • David Comerford

    (The Geary Institute University College Dublin)

  • Liam Delaney

    (The Geary Institute University College Dublin)

  • Colm Harmon

    (The Geary Institute University College Dublin)

Abstract

This paper tests for a number of survey effects in the elicitation of expenditure items. In particular we examine the extent to which individuals use features of the expenditure question to construct their answers. We test whether respondents interpret question wording as researchers intend and examine the extent to which prompts, clarifications and seemingly arbitrary features of survey design influence expenditure reports. We find that over one quarter of respondents have difficulty distinguishing between "you" and "your household" when making expenditure reports; that respondents report higher pro-rata expenditure when asked to give responses on a weekly as opposed to monthly or annual time scale; that respondents give higher estimates when using a scale with a higher mid-point; and that respondents give higher aggregated expenditure when categories are presented in a disaggregated form. In summary, expenditure reports are constructed using convenient rules of thumb and available information, which will depend on the characteristics of the respondent, the expenditure domain and features of the survey question. It is crucial to further account for these features in ongoing surveys.

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File URL: http://www.ucd.ie/geary/static/publications/workingpapers/gearywp200925.pdf
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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Geary Institute, University College Dublin in its series Working Papers with number 200925.

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Length: 19 pages
Date of creation: 10 Aug 2009
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:ucd:wpaper:200925

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References

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  1. Michael D. Hurd, 1999. "Anchoring and Acquiescence Bias in Measuring Assets in Households Surveys," Working Papers 99-02, RAND Corporation Publications Department.
  2. Winter, Joachim, 0000. "Bracketing effects in categorized survey questions and the measurement of economic quantities," Sonderforschungsbereich 504 Publications 02-35, Sonderforschungsbereich 504, Universität Mannheim & Sonderforschungsbereich 504, University of Mannheim.
  3. repec:ebl:ecbull:v:3:y:2004:i:9:p:1-12 is not listed on IDEAS
  4. Martin Browning & Thomas F. Crossley & Guglielmo Weber, 2002. "Asking Consumption Questions in General Purpose Surveys," Social and Economic Dimensions of an Aging Population Research Papers 77, McMaster University.
  5. Drazen Prelec & George Loewenstein, 1991. "Decision Making Over Time and Under Uncertainty: A Common Approach," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 37(7), pages 770-786, July.
  6. Menon, Geeta & Raghubir, Priya & Schwarz, Norbert, 1995. " Behavioral Frequency Judgments: An Accessibility-Diagnosticity Framework," Journal of Consumer Research, University of Chicago Press, vol. 22(2), pages 212-28, September.
  7. Schkade David A. & Payne John W., 1994. "How People Respond to Contingent Valuation Questions: A Verbal Protocol Analysis of Willingness to Pay for an Environmental Regulation," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 26(1), pages 88-109, January.
  8. Loomis John & Lockwood Michael & DeLacy Terry, 1993. "Some Empirical Evidence on Embedding Effects in Contingent Valuation of Forest Protection," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 25(1), pages 45-55, July.
  9. Oswald, Andrew J, 2008. "On the Curvature of the Reporting Function from Objective Reality to Subjective Feelings," The Warwick Economics Research Paper Series (TWERPS) 839, University of Warwick, Department of Economics.
  10. Kahneman, Daniel & Ritov, Ilana & Schkade, David A, 1999. "Economic Preferences or Attitude Expressions?: An Analysis of Dollar Responses to Public Issues," Journal of Risk and Uncertainty, Springer, vol. 19(1-3), pages 203-35, December.
  11. Lindhjem, Henrik & Navrud, Ståle, 2008. "Asking for Individual or Household Willingness to Pay for Environmental Goods? Implication for aggregate welfare measures," MPRA Paper 11469, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  12. Dan Ariely & George Loewenstein & Drazen Prelec, 2003. ""Coherent Arbitrariness": Stable Demand Curves Without Stable Preferences," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 118(1), pages 73-105, February.
  13. Delaney, Liam & O'Toole, Francis, 2008. "Individual, household and gender preferences for social transfers," Journal of Economic Psychology, Elsevier, vol. 29(3), pages 348-359, June.
  14. Weber, Bethany J. & Chapman, Gretchen B., 2005. "Playing for peanuts: Why is risk seeking more common for low-stakes gambles?," Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, Elsevier, vol. 97(1), pages 31-46, May.
  15. Liam Delaney & Francis O’Toole, 2006. "Willingness to pay: individual or household?," Journal of Cultural Economics, Springer, vol. 30(4), pages 305-309, December.
  16. Joachim Winter, 2004. "Response bias in survey-based measures of household consumption," Economics Bulletin, AccessEcon, vol. 3(9), pages 1-12.
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Blog mentions

As found by EconAcademics.org, the blog aggregator for Economics research:
  1. Geary Summer Internships
    by Liam Delaney in Geary Behaviour Centre on 2011-02-20 21:27:00
  2. Bundle: Microeconomic Insights from Citibank Data
    by Martin Ryan in Geary Behaviour Centre on 2011-02-06 21:14:00
  3. Geary Working Paper - Experimental Tests of Expenditure Response
    by Liam Delaney in Geary Behaviour Centre on 2009-08-12 11:22:00
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Cited by:
  1. Beegle, Kathleen & De Weerdt, Joachim & Friedman, Jed & Gibson, John, 2012. "Methods of household consumption measurement through surveys: Experimental results from Tanzania," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 98(1), pages 3-18.
  2. 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.

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