Measuring Household Spending and Payment Habits: The Role of 'Typical' and 'Specific' Time Frames in Survey Questions

23 Pages Posted: 14 Jan 2015

See all articles by Marco Angrisani

Marco Angrisani

Center for Economic and Social Research (CESR)

Arie Kapteyn

Dornsife Center for Economic and Social Research - University of Southern California; IZA Institute of Labor Economics

Scott D. Schuh

Federal Reserve Bank of Boston - Research Department

Date Written: June 1, 2012

Abstract

We designed and fielded an experimental module in the American Life Panel (ALP) where we ask individuals to report the number of their purchases and the amount paid by debit cards, cash, credit cards, and personal checks. The design of the experiment features several stages of randomization. First, three different groups of sample participants are randomly assigned to an entry month (July, August, or September, 2011) and are to be interviewed four times during a year, once every quarter. Second, for each method of payment a sequence of questions elicits spending behavior during a day, week, month, and year. At the time of the first interview, this sequence is randomly assigned to refer to “specific” time spans or to “typical” time spans. In all subsequent interviews, a “specific” sequence becomes a “typical” sequence and vice versa. In this paper, we analyze the data from the first wave of the survey. We show that the type — specific or typical — and length of recall periods greatly influence household reporting behavior.

JEL Classification: D12, D14, E41

Suggested Citation

Angrisani, Marco and Kapteyn, Arie and Schuh, Scott, Measuring Household Spending and Payment Habits: The Role of 'Typical' and 'Specific' Time Frames in Survey Questions (June 1, 2012). FRB of Boston Working Paper No. 12-7. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2548546 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2548546

Marco Angrisani

Center for Economic and Social Research (CESR) ( email )

635 Downey Way
Los Angeles, CA 90089-3332
United States

Arie Kapteyn

Dornsife Center for Economic and Social Research - University of Southern California ( email )

635 Downey Way
Los Angeles, CA 90089-3332
United States
310-448-5383 (Phone)

IZA Institute of Labor Economics

P.O. Box 7240
Bonn, D-53072
Germany

Scott Schuh (Contact Author)

Federal Reserve Bank of Boston - Research Department ( email )

600 Atlantic Ave.
Boston, MA 02210
United States
617-973-3941 (Phone)
617-619-7541 (Fax)

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