The Under-Reporting of Transfers in Household Surveys: Its Nature and Consequences

95 Pages Posted: 28 Jul 2009 Last revised: 26 Jun 2010

See all articles by Bruce D. Meyer

Bruce D. Meyer

University of Chicago - Harris Public Policy; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

Wallace Mok

Northwestern University - Department of Economics

James X. Sullivan

University of Notre Dame - Department of Economics and Econometrics

Date Written: July 2009

Abstract

High rates of understatement are found for many government transfer programs and in many datasets. This understatement has major implications for our understanding of economic well-being and the effects of transfer programs. We provide estimates of the extent of under-reporting for ten transfer programs in five major nationally representative surveys by comparing reported weighted totals for these programs with totals obtained from government agencies. We also examine imputation procedures and rates. We find increasing under-reporting and imputation over time and sharp differences across programs and surveys. We explore reasons for under-reporting and how under-reporting biases existing studies and suggest corrections.

Suggested Citation

Meyer, Bruce D. and Mok, Wallace K. C. and Sullivan, James X., The Under-Reporting of Transfers in Household Surveys: Its Nature and Consequences (July 2009). NBER Working Paper No. w15181. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1438855

Bruce D. Meyer (Contact Author)

University of Chicago - Harris Public Policy ( email )

1155 East 60th Street
Chicago, IL 60637
United States
(773) 702-2712 (Phone)

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

Wallace K. C. Mok

Northwestern University - Department of Economics ( email )

2003 Sheridan Road
Evanston, IL 60208
United States

James X. Sullivan

University of Notre Dame - Department of Economics and Econometrics ( email )

Notre Dame, IN 46556
United States

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