Measuring Total Household Spending in a Monthly Internet Survey: Evidence from the American Life Panel

Michael D. Hurd, Susann Rohwedder

This chapter is a preliminary draft unless otherwise noted. It may not have been subjected to the formal review process of the NBER. This page will be updated as the chapter is revised.

Chapter in forthcoming NBER book Improving the Measurement of Consumer Expenditures, Christopher Carroll, Thomas Crossley, and John Sabelhaus, editors
Conference held December 2-3, 2011
Forthcoming from University of Chicago Press
in NBER Book Series Studies in Income and Wealth

Beginning in May 2009 we fielded a monthly Internet survey designed to measure total household spending as the aggregate of about 40 spending components. We developed a unique summary table which permits a respondent to correct erroneous entries. This paper reports on a number of outcomes from 30 waves of data collection in panel. These outcomes include sample attrition, indicators of data quality such as item nonresponse and the variance in total spending, and how the variance is affected by the summary table. Total spending in our sample aggregates closely to total spending in the Consumer Expenditure Survey as reported in published estimates. We conclude that high-frequency surveying for total spending is feasible and that the resulting data show expected patterns of levels and change.

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This paper was revised on February 25, 2013

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This chapter first appeared as NBER working paper w17974, Measuring Total Household Spending in a Monthly Internet Survey: Evidence from the American Life Panel, Michael D. Hurd, Susann Rohwedder
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