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A Comparison of Micro and Macro Expenditure Measures across Countries using Differing Survey Methods

In: Improving the Measurement of Consumer Expenditures

  • Garry Barrett
  • Peter Levell
  • Kevin Milligan

This paper presents a comparative assessment of the performance of the household expenditure survey programs in Australia, Canada, the UK and US. Cross-country and time series variation in survey methodology and experience is used to assess the role of factors influencing the performance of the household surveys. First, coverage of aggregate expenditure relative to national account is examined. Coverage rates are highest in Canada and the UK. Over the past three decades coverage remained fairly stable in Canada and Australia; in the UK and US coverage rates declined sharply. Survey response rates and top income shares are then considered in tandem with coverage rates. Falls in response rates are found to be predictive of changes in coverage rates. Further, the change in coverage rates over time coincided with the growing concentration of income, indicating that growing inequality contributed to declining coverage rates. Specific expenditure components were then examined. There was no clear pattern by collection method. Most evident is the high and stable coverage of regularly purchased items (e.g. food), along with the more volatile coverage of irregular and larger expenditure items (e.g. vehicles, furniture and household equipment). The aggregate patterns in coverage cannot be attributed to specific expenditure components or collection methods.

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This item is provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Chapters with number 12665.
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberch:12665
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  1. Angus Deaton, 2005. "Measuring Poverty in a Growing World (or Measuring Growth in a Poor World)," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 87(1), pages 1-19, February.
  2. Angus Deaton, 2005. "ERRATUM: Measuring Poverty in a Growing World (or Measuring Growth in a Poor World)," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 87(2), pages 395-395, May.
  3. Slesnick, Daniel T, 1992. "Aggregate Consumption and Saving in the Postwar United States," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 74(4), pages 585-97, November.
  4. Anthony B. Atkinson & Thomas Piketty & Emmanuel Saez, 2009. "Top Incomes in the Long Run of History," NBER Working Papers 15408, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  5. Giovanni D'Alessio & Ivan Faiella, 2002. "Non-response behaviour in the Bank of Italy�s Survey of Household Income and Wealth," Temi di discussione (Economic working papers) 462, Bank of Italy, Economic Research and International Relations Area.
  6. Adler, Hans J & Wolfson, Michael, 1988. "A Prototype Micro-Macro Link for the Canadian Household Sector," Review of Income and Wealth, International Association for Research in Income and Wealth, vol. 34(4), pages 371-92, December.
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