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Measuring uncertainty based on rounding: New method and application to inflation expectations

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  • Binder, Carola C.

Abstract

The literature on cognition and communication documents that people use round numbers to convey uncertainty. This paper introduces a method of quantifying the uncertainty associated with round responses in pre-existing survey data. I construct micro-level and time series measures of inflation uncertainty since 1978. Inflation uncertainty is countercyclical and correlated with inflation disagreement, volatility, and the Economic Policy Uncertainty index. Inflation uncertainty is lowest among high-income consumers, college graduates, males, and stock market investors. More uncertain consumers are more reluctant to spend on durables, cars, and homes. Round responses are common on many surveys, suggesting numerous applications of this method.

Suggested Citation

  • Binder, Carola C., 2017. "Measuring uncertainty based on rounding: New method and application to inflation expectations," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 90(C), pages 1-12.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:moneco:v:90:y:2017:i:c:p:1-12
    DOI: 10.1016/j.jmoneco.2017.06.001
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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Uncertainty; Inflation; Consumption; Consumer durables; Expectations; Surveys;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • D80 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - General
    • D83 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Search; Learning; Information and Knowledge; Communication; Belief; Unawareness
    • D84 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Expectations; Speculations
    • E21 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Consumption, Saving, Production, Employment, and Investment - - - Consumption; Saving; Wealth
    • E31 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Prices, Business Fluctuations, and Cycles - - - Price Level; Inflation; Deflation
    • C10 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Econometric and Statistical Methods and Methodology: General - - - General

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