Improving the Measurement of Consumer Expenditures

Improving the Measurement of Consumer Expenditures

Christopher D. Carroll, Thomas F. Crossley, and John Sabelhaus

Print publication date: 2016

ISBN: 9780226126654

Publisher: University of Chicago Press


Many countries including the U.S. are now embarking on multiyear projects to redesign their surveys of household expenditures. This volume presents work by many of the world’s leading experts on consumption measurement meant to illuminate the challenges and opportunities that lie ahead. The aim of the volume, in broadest terms, is to provide a knowledge base for use of agencies and researchers as they design new systems for measurement of household expenditures. To that end, the volume includes a comprehensive set of chapters describing the current status and use of the U.S. Consumer Expenditure (CE) survey, with a focus on documenting the key deficiencies that the redesign process is meant to address; a number of chapters describing new modes of data collection (including the use of scanner data, internet panels, and administrative data from government and private sources); chapters outlining the importance of various objectives that such surveys might satisfy, ranging from estimation of price and income elasticities to studying the differential evolution of income and consumption inequality; chapters describing comparisons of the data available from other existing sources to those obtainable from an expenditure survey; comparisons of alternative approaches and results in different countries; and much more. The chapters in this volume were written around the same time that the National Academy of Science released its report on the Bureau of Labor Statistics proposed redesign for the US CE survey, and the two approaches provide complementary perspectives on the pros and cons of various proposed redesign strategies.

Table of Contents


Christopher D. Carroll, Thomas F. Crossley, and John Sabelhaus

I What Do We Already Know about Collecting Household Expenditure Data?

1 Asking Households about Expenditures

Thomas F. Crossley and Joachim K. Winter

II Goals for the Expenditure Survey Redesign

3 The Benefits of Panel Data in Consumer Expenditure Surveys

Jonathan A. Parker, Nicholas S. Souleles, and Christopher D. Carroll

5 Using the CE to Model Household Demand

Laura Blow, Valérie Lechene, and Peter Levell

III Evaluating the Existing CE Survey

6 Understanding the Relationship

William Passero, Thesia I. Garner, and Clinton McCully

7 The Validity of Consumption Data

Adam Bee, Bruce D. Meyer, and James X. Sullivan

8 Is the Consumer Expenditure Survey Representative by Income?

John Sabelhaus, David Johnson, Stephen Ash, David Swanson, Thesia I. Garner, John Greenlees, and Steve Henderson

IV Alternative Approaches to Data Collection

10 Measuring the Accuracy of Survey Responses Using Administrative Register Data

Claus Thustrup Kreiner, David Dreyer Lassen, and Søren Leth-Petersen

14 Wealth Dynamics and Active Saving at Older Ages

Michael D. Hurd and Susann Rohwedder

15 Measuring Household Spending and Payment Habits

Marco Angrisani, Arie Kapteyn, and Scott Schuh