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Estimating the public's social preference function between inflation and unemployment using survey data: The survey research center versus Gallup


  • Susan W. Taylor

    () (Department of Economics, Millsaps College, Jackson, Mississippi 39210, USA)

  • David J. Smyth

    () (Middlesex University Business School, London NW4, United Kingdom)

  • Pami Dua

    (Department of Economics, University of Connecticut, Stamford, Connecticut 06903, USA)


Economists often use Gallup Poll data on presidential performance to analyze the interaction between politics and the state of the macroeconomy. The household survey undertaken by the Survey Research Center (SRC) of the University of Michigan provides an alternative data base. The SRC asks respondents about the government's performance specifically with respect to inflation and unemployment. We compare whether the Gallup or SRC data are the more useful for estimating the public's social preference function between inflation and unemployment for the Carter, Reagan, Bush and Clinton presidencies. The estimates that use Gallup Poll data are unsatisfactory because for two of the periods the coefficients of inflation and unemployment are not well estimated and for one period there is serial correlation of the residuals. The estimates using the SRC data set are satisfactory and the results are consistent with economic theory. We conclude that a researcher using survey data to estimate the public's reaction to varying rates of inflation and unemployment should prefer the SRC series when it is available.

Suggested Citation

  • Susan W. Taylor & David J. Smyth & Pami Dua, 1999. "Estimating the public's social preference function between inflation and unemployment using survey data: The survey research center versus Gallup," Empirical Economics, Springer, vol. 24(3), pages 361-372.
  • Handle: RePEc:spr:empeco:v:24:y:1999:i:3:p:361-372 Note: received: October 1995/final version received: July 1998

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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Berlemann, Michael & Enkelmann, Sören, 2014. "The economic determinants of U.S. presidential approval: A survey," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 36(C), pages 41-54.
    2. Michael Berlemann, 2005. "Time inconsistency of monetary policy: Empirical evidence from polls," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 125(1), pages 1-15, July.
    3. D. J. Smyth & S. W. Taylor, 2003. "Presidential popularity: what matters most, macroeconomics or scandals?," Applied Economics Letters, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 10(9), pages 585-588.
    4. Easaw, Joshy Z. & Ghoshray, Atanu, 2007. "Confidence or competence: Do presidencies matter for households' subjective preferences?," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 23(4), pages 1025-1037, December.
    5. Fox, Gerald T., 2012. "Macroeconomic time consistency and wartime presidential approval," Journal of Macroeconomics, Elsevier, vol. 34(3), pages 891-902.

    More about this item


    Estimating the Social Preference Function;

    JEL classification:

    • H00 - Public Economics - - General - - - General


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