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On the use and nonuse of surveys in economics

  • Bryan Boulier
  • Robert Goldfarb

While it is widely alleged that economists do not like or use questionnaire surveys, the facts are considerably more complicated. Economists make extensive use of survey information on such things as prices and employment, and the use of 'contingent valuation' surveys has exploded recently. The paper reviews the historical debate that led to economists' seeming distrust of surveys. It then investigates why there is extensive use of surveys in the face of methodological strictures against survey use. To do this, the paper develops a typology of kinds of information that can be gathered by surveys and considers whether anti-survey arguments apply with equal force to the various categories. Differing methodological uses for survey data are then considered, using a number of actual survey literatures as illustrations. Finally, the paper presents strategies for improving the use of survey data in economics.

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Article provided by Taylor & Francis Journals in its journal Journal of Economic Methodology.

Volume (Year): 5 (1998)
Issue (Month): 1 ()
Pages: 1-21

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Handle: RePEc:taf:jecmet:v:5:y:1998:i:1:p:1-21
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