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Design effects in survey-based measures of household consumption


  • Winter, Joachim


An important issue in designing survey questions on household consumption is the level of aggregation of expenditure categories. In this paper, I present experimental evidence on biases that are related to the choice of expenditure categories. Comparing responses to a 'one shot' question with responses to a more disaggregated design that comprises 35 expenditure categories reveals significant underreporting in the one-shot question. The same holds true when responses to one of these still relatively broad categories (food and beverages) are compared with measures from a budget survey that is based on a very detailed expenditure diary. There is also some evidence that these biases affect subsequent substantive economic analysis such as the estimation of Engel curves.

Suggested Citation

  • Winter, Joachim, 2002. "Design effects in survey-based measures of household consumption," Papers 02-34, Sonderforschungsbreich 504.
  • Handle: RePEc:mnh:spaper:2786

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    References listed on IDEAS

    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.
    2. Philipson, Tomas, 2001. "Data Markets, Missing Data, and Incentive Pay," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 69(4), pages 1099-1111, July.
    3. Borsch-Supan, Axel & Reil-Held, Anette & Rodepeter, Ralf & Schnabel, Reinhold & Winter, Joachim, 2001. "The German Savings Puzzle," Research in Economics, Elsevier, vol. 55(1), pages 15-38, March.
    4. Lanjouw, Jean Olson & Lanjouw, Peter, 2001. "How to Compare Apples and Oranges: Poverty Measurement Based on Different Definitions of Consumption," Review of Income and Wealth, International Association for Research in Income and Wealth, vol. 47(1), pages 25-42, March.
    5. Menno Pradhan, 2001. "Welfare Analysis with a Proxy Consumption Measure – Evidence from a Repeated Experiment in Indonesia," Tinbergen Institute Discussion Papers 01-092/2, Tinbergen Institute.
    6. Ziliak, James P., 1998. "Does the choice of consumption measure matter? An application to the permanent-income hypothesis," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 41(1), pages 201-216, February.
    7. Skinner, Jonathan, 1987. "A superior measure of consumption from the panel study of income dynamics," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 23(2), pages 213-216.
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    Cited by:

    1. Joachim Winter, 2004. "Response bias in survey-based measures of household consumption," Economics Bulletin, AccessEcon, vol. 3(9), pages 1-12.
    2. 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.
    3. Erich Battistin & Mario Padula, 2016. "Survey instruments and the reports of consumption expenditures: evidence from the consumer expenditure surveys," Journal of the Royal Statistical Society Series A, Royal Statistical Society, vol. 179(2), pages 559-581, February.
    4. Toepoel, V. & Vis, C.M. & Das, J.W.M. & van Soest, A.H.O., 2006. "Design of Web Questionnaires : An Information Processing Perspective for the Effect of Response Categories," Discussion Paper 2006-19, Tilburg University, Center for Economic Research.

    More about this item


    survey methodology ; consumption;

    JEL classification:

    • C81 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Data Collection and Data Estimation Methodology; Computer Programs - - - Methodology for Collecting, Estimating, and Organizing Microeconomic Data; Data Access


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