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What Do Survey Data Tell Us about US Businesses?

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  • Anmol Bhandari
  • Serdar Birinci
  • Ellen McGrattan
  • Kurt See

Abstract

This paper examines the reliability of survey data on business incomes, valuations, and rates of return, which are key inputs for studies of wealth inequality and entrepreneurial choice. We compare survey responses of business owners with available data from administrative tax records, brokered private business sales, and publicly traded company filings and document problems due to nonrepresentative samples and measurement errors across several surveys, subsamples, and years. We find that the discrepancies are economically relevant for the statistics of interest. We investigate reasons for these discrepancies and propose corrections for future survey designs.

Suggested Citation

  • Anmol Bhandari & Serdar Birinci & Ellen McGrattan & Kurt See, 2019. "What Do Survey Data Tell Us about US Businesses?," NBER Working Papers 26063, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:26063
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    Cited by:

    1. Tina Highfill & Richard Cao & Richard Schwinn & Richard Prisinzano & Danny Leung, 2020. "Measuring the Small Business Economy," BEA Working Papers 0173, Bureau of Economic Analysis.
    2. Anmol Bhandari & Serdar Birinci & Ellen R. McGrattan & Kurt See, 2020. "What Do Survey Data Tell Us about US Businesses?," American Economic Review: Insights, American Economic Association, vol. 2(4), pages 443-458, December.
    3. Matthew Smith & Owen Zidar & Eric Zwick, 2020. "Top Wealth in America: New Estimates and Implications for Taxing the Rich," Working Papers 264, Princeton University, Department of Economics, Center for Economic Policy Studies..
    4. Lena Anayi & Nicholas Bloom & Philip Bunn & Paul Mizen & Gregory Thwaites & Ivan Yotzov, 2022. "Firming up price inflation," POID Working Papers 058, Centre for Economic Performance, LSE.
    5. Heer, Burkhard & Trede, Mark, 2023. "Age-specific entrepreneurship and PAYG: Public pensions in Germany," Journal of Macroeconomics, Elsevier, vol. 75(C).
    6. Catherine, Sylvain, 2022. "Keeping options open: What motivates entrepreneurs?," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 144(1), pages 1-21.
    7. Uribe-Terán, Carlos, 2021. "Higher taxes at the top? The role of tax avoidance," Journal of Economic Dynamics and Control, Elsevier, vol. 129(C).
    8. Madeira, Carlos & Margaretic, Paula, 2022. "The impact of financial literacy on the quality of self-reported financial information," Journal of Behavioral and Experimental Finance, Elsevier, vol. 34(C).
    9. Corina Boar & Virgiliu Midrigan, 2020. "Efficient Redistribution," NBER Working Papers 27622, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.

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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • C83 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Data Collection and Data Estimation Methodology; Computer Programs - - - Survey Methods; Sampling Methods
    • E22 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Consumption, Saving, Production, Employment, and Investment - - - Investment; Capital; Intangible Capital; Capacity
    • H25 - Public Economics - - Taxation, Subsidies, and Revenue - - - Business Taxes and Subsidies

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