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What Really Happened to Consumption Inequality in the US?

  • Orazio Attanasio
  • Erich Battistin
  • Hidehiko Ichimura

This paper considers data quality issues for the analysis of consumption inequality exploiting two complementary datasets from the Consumer Expenditure Survey for the United States. The Interview sample follows survey households over four calendar quarters and consists of retrospectively collected information about monthly expenditures on durable and non-durable goods. The Diary sample interviews household for two consecutive weeks and includes detailed information about frequently purchased items (food, personal cares and household supplies). Most reliable information from each sample is exploited to derive a correction for the measurement error affecting observed measures of consumption inequality in the two surveys. We find that consumption inequality, as measured by the standard deviation of log non-durable consumption, has increased by roughly 5% points during the 1990s.

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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 10338.

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Date of creation: Mar 2004
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:10338
Note: EFG
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  1. Deaton, A. & Paxson, C., 1993. "Intertemporal Choice and Inequality," Papers 168, Princeton, Woodrow Wilson School - Development Studies.
  2. John Y. Campbell, 1992. "Intertemporal Asset Pricing Without Consumption Data," NBER Working Papers 3989, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. David M. Cutler & Lawrence F. Katz, 1991. "Macroeconomic Performance and the Disadvantaged," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 22(2), pages 1-74.
  4. Cochrane, John H, 1991. "A Simple Test of Consumption Insurance," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 99(5), pages 957-76, October.
  5. Dirk Krueger & Fabrizio Perri, 2004. "On the Welfare Consequences of the Increase in Inequality in the United States," NBER Chapters, in: NBER Macroeconomics Annual 2003, Volume 18, pages 83-138 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  6. Erich Battistin & Raffaele Miniaci & Guglielmo Weber, 2003. "What Do We Learn from Recall Consumption Data?," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 38(2).
  7. Robert M. Townsend, . "Risk and Insurance in Village India," University of Chicago - Population Research Center 91-3a, Chicago - Population Research Center.
  8. Attanasio, Orazio & Davis, Steven J, 1996. "Relative Wage Movements and the Distribution of Consumption," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 104(6), pages 1227-62, December.
  9. 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.
  10. Richard Blundell & Ian Preston, 1998. "Consumption Inequality And Income Uncertainty," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 113(2), pages 603-640, May.
  11. Slesnick, Daniel T, 1993. "Gaining Ground: Poverty in the Postwar United States," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 101(1), pages 1-38, February.
  12. Attanasio, Orazio P & Weber, Guglielmo, 1995. "Is Consumption Growth Consistent with Intertemporal Optimization? Evidence from the Consumer Expenditure Survey," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 103(6), pages 1121-57, December.
  13. Keisuke Hirano & Guido W. Imbens & Geert Ridder, 2000. "Efficient Estimation of Average Treatment Effects Using the Estimated Propensity Score," NBER Technical Working Papers 0251, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  14. Mace, Barbara J, 1991. "Full Insurance in the Presence of Aggregate Uncertainty," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 99(5), pages 928-56, October.
  15. Richard Blundell & Luigi Pistaferri & Ian Preston, 2002. "Partial insurance, information and consumption dynamics," IFS Working Papers W02/16, Institute for Fiscal Studies.
  16. Slesnick,Daniel T., 2001. "Consumption and Social Welfare," Cambridge Books, Cambridge University Press, number 9780521497206, October.
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