A Comparison of Micro and Macro Expenditure Measures Across Countries Using Differing Survey Methods
This paper presents a comparative assessment of the performance of the household expenditure survey programs in Australia, Canada, the UK and US. Cross-country and time series variation in survey methodology and experience is used to assess the role of factors influencing the performance of the household surveys.
First, coverage of aggregate expenditure relative to national account is examined. Coverage rates are highest in Canada and the UK. Over the past three decades coverage remained fairly stable in Canada and Australia; in the UK and US coverage rates declined sharply. Survey response rates and top income shares are then considered in tandem with coverage rates. Falls in response rates are found to be predictive of changes in coverage rates. Further, the change in coverage rates over time coincided with the growing concentration of income, indicating that growing inequality contributed to declining coverage rates.
Specific expenditure components were then examined. There was no clear pattern by collection method. Most evident is the high and stable coverage of regularly purchased items (e.g. food), along with the more volatile coverage of irregular and larger expenditure items (e.g. vehicles, furniture and household equipment). The aggregate patterns in coverage cannot be attributed to specific expenditure components or collection methods.
Paper prepared for "Conference on Improving the Measurement of Consumer Expenditures", sponsored by the Conference on Research in Income and Wealth and the National Bureau of Economic Research, December 2011. This paper builds on joint ongoing work with Thomas F. Crossley. Cormac O'Dea assisted in the collection of the UK data. Bruce Meyer and Jim Sullivan provided some assistance with our US data. We thank the aforementioned for their contributions to this work. We also thank the editor John Sabelhaus and conference participants for their suggestions for the paper. The views expressed herein are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Bureau of Economic Research. Levell acknowledges funding from the ESRC-funded Centre for Microeconomic Analysis of Public Policy (CPP, reference RES-544-28-5001).
This document attempts to disclose completely my potential conflicts of interest, using the principles circulated by the American Economic Association on January 5, 2012.
Item (2): Sources of support:
“Each author of a submitted article should identify each interested party from whom he or she has received significant financial support, summing to at least $10,000 in the past three years, …”
The following corresponds to the calendar years 2009-2012. Below is a complete listing of sources of support that exceed $10,000. For several of these, a grant flowed through a research organization. I have tried to list both the research organization and ultimate source of the funds.
1. University of British Columbia: salary. (2009 2010 2011 2012)
2. Simon Fraser University, Centre for Education Research and Policy: visitor stipend. (2009)
3. National Institute on Aging / National Bureau of Economic Research: stipend for International Social Security project. (2009 2010)
4. Prairie Research Associates / Human Resources and Skills Development Canada: consulting on National Child Benefit. (2009 2010)
5. Canada West Foundation / Western Economic Diversification Canada: stipend for paper on taxation. (2009)
6. Bavarian Graduate Program in Economics: teaching stipend. (2009)
7. Research Working Group on Retirement Income Adequacy in support of the Council of Federal, Provincial, and Territorial Finance Ministers: stipend for paper. (2009)
8. National Bureau of Economic Research / Social Security Administration: stipend for paper. (2010 2011)
9. Canadian Labour Market and Skills Researcher Network / Human Resources and Skills Development Canada: stipend for paper. (2009)
10. Social Science and Humanities Research Council of Canada: Standard Research Grant. (2009 2010 2011)
11. National Bureau of Economic Research / Sloan Foundation: stipend for paper. (2011)
12. Canadian Tax Foundation: funding for conference. (2011)
13. Canadian Labour Market and Skills Researcher Network / Human Resources and Skills Development Canada: Research grant for papers on retirement. (2010 2011 2012)
Item (3): relevant paid or unpaid positions:
“Each author should disclose any paid or unpaid positions as officer, director, or board member of relevant non-profit advocacy organizations or profit-making entities.”
The following list covers activities in the years 2009-2012:
1. Economic Advisor to ‘Smart Tax Alliance’ during referendum on Harmonized Sales Tax. (Unpaid) (2011)
2. Editor, Canadian Tax Journal. (Paid) (2011 2012)
3. Associate Editor, Canadian Public Policy. (Paid) (2009 2010 2011)
4. Associate Editor, Canadian Journal of Economics. (Unpaid) (2009)
5. Associate Editor, Journal of Pension Economics and Finance. (Unpaid) (2011 2012)
6. Academic Director, British Columbia Interuniversity Research Data Centre (Unpaid; teaching release). Funded by UBC/UVIC/SFU/UNBC/SSHRC/CIHR. (2009 2010 2011 2012)
7. President and sole shareholder of KAYEMM CONSULTANCY INCORPORATED, through which some of the above funds have been received. (2010 2011 2012)
8. Board of Directors, Wesley Place Ltd., Vancouver BC. (Unpaid) (2012)
9. Board of Directors, National Tax Association. (Unpaid) (2011 2012)
Item (4): disclosure for close relative or partner
I had no domestic partner in the years 2009-2012.
1. Research Associate, National Bureau of Economic Research. (Unpaid) (2009 2010 2011 2012)
2. Research Fellow, C.D. Howe Institute. (Unpaid) (2009 2010 2011 2012)
3. Occasional contributor, Economy Lab, Globe and Mail. (Unpaid) (2010 2011 2012)
I hold shares in companies through broadly-diversified mutual funds and investment vehicles. I do not directly hold shares of any corporation (except for KAYEMM CONSULTANCY as noted above).
I am not a member of any political party at the municipal, provincial, or federal levels.
A Comparison of Micro and Macro Expenditure Measures across Countries Using Differing Survey Methods, Garry Barrett, Peter Levell, Kevin Milligan. in Improving the Measurement of Consumer Expenditures, Carroll, Crossley, and Sabelhaus. 2015