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Asking Households about Expenditures: What Have We Learned?

In: Improving the Measurement of Consumer Expenditures

  • Thomas F. Crossley
  • Joachim K. Winter

When designing household surveys, including surveys that measure consumption expenditure, numerous choices need to be made. Which survey mode should be used? Do recall questions or diaries provide more reliable expenditure data? How should the concept of a household be defined? How should the length of the recall period, the level of aggregation of expenditure items, and the response format be chosen? How are responses affected by incentives? Can computer-assisted surveys be used to reduce or correct response error in real time? In this paper, we provide a selective review of the literature on these questions. We also suggest some promising directions for future research.

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This chapter was published in:
  • Christopher Carroll & Thomas Crossley & John Sabelhaus, 2015. "Improving the Measurement of Consumer Expenditures," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number carr11-1, October.
  • This item is provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Chapters with number 12666.
    Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberch:12666
    Contact details of provider: Postal: National Bureau of Economic Research, 1050 Massachusetts Avenue Cambridge, MA 02138, U.S.A.
    Phone: 617-868-3900
    Web page: http://www.nber.org
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    2. Michael Hurd & Susann Rohwedder, 2010. "Effects of the Financial Crisis and Great Recession on American Households," Working Papers 810, RAND Corporation Publications Department.
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    7. David Comerford & Liam Delaney & Colm Harmon, 2009. "Experimental Tests of Survey Responses to Expenditure Questions," Working Papers 200925, Geary Institute, University College Dublin.
    8. Winter, Joachim, 2003. "Response bias in survey-based measures of household consumption," Munich Reprints in Economics 19725, University of Munich, Department of Economics.
    9. Martin Browning & Thomas Crossley, 2009. "Are two cheap, noisy measures better than one expensive, accurate one?," IFS Working Papers W09/01, Institute for Fiscal Studies.
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