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Heaping and leaping: survey response behaviour and the dynamics of self-reported consumption expenditure

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  • Pudney, Stephen

Abstract

Survey respondents often use simple strategies to answer retrospective questions about their level of consumption expenditure, resulting in the heaping of data at certain round numbers. In the panel context, wave-to-wave ‘leaping’ from one ‘heap’ to another can distort the sample pattern of consumption movements over time. Using BHPS energy expenditure data, we show that respondents use a variety of different response strategies, often switching between those strategies. We estimate a joint model of the dynamics of consumption and response behaviour and find that neglect of response behaviour can lead to serious biases in empirical studies of consumption dynamics.

Suggested Citation

  • Pudney, Stephen, 2008. "Heaping and leaping: survey response behaviour and the dynamics of self-reported consumption expenditure," ISER Working Paper Series 2008-09, Institute for Social and Economic Research.
  • Handle: RePEc:ese:iserwp:2008-09
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    File URL: https://www.iser.essex.ac.uk/research/publications/working-papers/iser/2008-09.pdf
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    1. Martin Browning & Thomas F. Crossley & Guglielmo Weber, 2003. "Asking consumption questions in general purpose surveys," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 113(491), pages 540-567, November.
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    6. Blundell, Richard & Bond, Stephen, 1998. "Initial conditions and moment restrictions in dynamic panel data models," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 87(1), pages 115-143, August.
    7. Bruce Headey & Ruud Muffels & Mark Wooden, 2004. "Money Doesn't Buy Happiness … or Does It? A Reconsideration Based on the Combined Effects of Wealth, Income and Consumption," Melbourne Institute Working Paper Series wp2004n15, Melbourne Institute of Applied Economic and Social Research, The University of Melbourne.
    8. Joseph G. Altonji & Aloysius Siow, 1987. "Testing the Response of Consumption to Income Changes with (Noisy) Panel Data," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 102(2), pages 293-328.
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    10. Erich Battistin, 2002. "Errors in Survey Reports of Consumption Expenditures," 10th International Conference on Panel Data, Berlin, July 5-6, 2002 C4-2, International Conferences on Panel Data.
    11. Pudney, Stephen & Francavilla, Francesca, 2006. "Income mis-measurement and the estimation of poverty rates: an analysis of income poverty in Albania," ISER Working Paper Series 2006-35, Institute for Social and Economic Research.
    12. Orazio Attanasio & Erich Battistin & Hidehiko Ichimura, 2004. "What Really Happened to Consumption Inequality in the US?," NBER Working Papers 10338, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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    Cited by:

    1. Jorge N. Valero-Gil & Magali Valero, 2008. "The effects of rising food prices on poverty in Mexico," Agricultural Economics, International Association of Agricultural Economists, vol. 39(s1), pages 485-496, November.
    2. Thomas F. Crossley & Joachim K. Winter, 2014. "Asking Households about Expenditures: What Have We Learned?," NBER Chapters,in: Improving the Measurement of Consumer Expenditures, pages 23-50 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    3. Helena Meier, Tooraj Jamasb, and Luis Orea, 2013. "Necessity or Luxury Good? Household Energy Spending and Income in Britain 1991-2007," The Energy Journal, International Association for Energy Economics, vol. 0(Number 4).
    4. Waddams Price, Catherine & Brazier, Karl & Wang, Wenjia, 2012. "Objective and subjective measures of fuel poverty," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 49(C), pages 33-39.
    5. Atella, Vincenzo & Brugiavini, Agar & Pace, Noemi, 2015. "The health care system reform in China: Effects on out-of-pocket expenses and saving," China Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 34(C), pages 182-195.
    6. repec:eee:moneco:v:90:y:2017:i:c:p:1-12 is not listed on IDEAS
    7. Andrea Neri & Roberta Zizza, 2010. "Income reporting behaviour in sample surveys," Temi di discussione (Economic working papers) 777, Bank of Italy, Economic Research and International Relations Area.
    8. Groß, Marcus & Rendtel, Ulrich, 2015. "Kernel density estimation for heaped data," Discussion Papers 2015/27, Free University Berlin, School of Business & Economics.
    9. repec:bla:jorssa:v:180:y:2017:i:1:p:161-183 is not listed on IDEAS

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