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Can survey participation alter household saving behavior?

  • Thomas Crossley


    (Institute for Fiscal Studies and Institute for Fiscal Studies, University of Essex)

  • Jochem de Bresser

    (Institute for Fiscal Studies)

  • Liam Delaney

    (Institute for Fiscal Studies)

  • Joachim Winter


    (Institute for Fiscal Studies and Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München)

Much empirical research in economics is based on data from household surveys. Panel surveys are particularly valuable for understanding dynamics and heterogeneity. A possible concern with panel surveys is that survey participation itself may alter subsequent behavior. We provide novel evidence of survey effects on a central life-cycle choice: household saving. We exploit randomized assignment to survey modules within the LISS Panel, an internet panel survey which is representative of the Dutch population. We find that households that respond to detailed questions on expenditures and needs in retirement reduced their non-housing saving rate by 3.5 percentage points, on average. This mean effect is driven by high-education households which have the highest pension and housing wealth. Our saving measure is based on linked administrative wealth data. Thus we can rule out the possibility that the effect is on reporting, rather than on the underlying saving behavior. One interpretation is that the survey acted as a salience shock, possibly with respect to reduced housing costs in retirement.

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Paper provided by Institute for Fiscal Studies in its series IFS Working Papers with number W14/06.

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Date of creation: Mar 2014
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:ifs:ifsewp:14/06
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  1. Das, J.W.M. & van Soest, A.H.O. & Toepoel, V., 2011. "Nonparametric tests of panel conditioning and attrition bias in panel surveys," Other publications TiSEM 76b0a827-e4b6-403d-8465-a, Tilburg University, School of Economics and Management.
  2. Morwitz, Vicki G & Johnson, Eric J & Schmittlein, David C, 1993. " Does Measuring Intent Change Behavior?," Journal of Consumer Research, University of Chicago Press, vol. 20(1), pages 46-61, June.
  3. Binswanger, Johannes & Schunk, Daniel, 2012. "What is an adequate standard of living during Retirement?," Journal of Pension Economics and Finance, Cambridge University Press, vol. 11(02), pages 203-222, April.
  4. Emmanuel Saez & Esther Duflo & Jeffrey Liebman & Peter Orszag & William Gale, 2005. "Saving incentives for low- and middle-income families: Evidence from a field experiment with h&r block," Framed Field Experiments 00234, The Field Experiments Website.
  5. Markus Frölich & Blaise Melly, 2013. "Unconditional Quantile Treatment Effects Under Endogeneity," Journal of Business & Economic Statistics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 31(3), pages 346-357, July.
  6. Stefano DellaVigna, 2009. "Psychology and Economics: Evidence from the Field," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 47(2), pages 315-72, June.
  7. Martin Browning & Thomas Crossley & Joachim Winter, 2014. "The measurement of household consumption expenditures," IFS Working Papers W14/07, Institute for Fiscal Studies.
  8. Markus Frolich & Blaise Melly, 2010. "Estimation of quantile treatment effects with Stata," Stata Journal, StataCorp LP, vol. 10(3), pages 423-457, September.
  9. Bert Van Landeghem, 2012. "Panel Conditioning and Self-Reported Satisfaction: Evidence from International Panel Data and Repeated Cross-Sections," SOEPpapers on Multidisciplinary Panel Data Research 484, DIW Berlin, The German Socio-Economic Panel (SOEP).
  10. Marcel Das & Vera Toepoel & Arthur van Soest, 2011. "Nonparametric Tests of Panel Conditioning and Attrition Bias in Panel Surveys," Sociological Methods & Research, , vol. 40(1), pages 32-56, February.
  11. Martin Browning & Mette Gørtz & Søren Leth‐Petersen, 2013. "Housing Wealth and Consumption: A Micro Panel Study," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 0, pages 401-428, 05.
  12. Fitzsimons, Gavan J & Shiv, Baba, 2001. " Nonconscious and Contaminative Effects of Hypothetical Questions on Subsequent Decision Making," Journal of Consumer Research, University of Chicago Press, vol. 28(2), pages 224-38, September.
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