Behind the Numbers: Understanding the Survey of Consumer Finances

15 Pages Posted: 27 Jun 2018

See all articles by Sherman D. Hanna

Sherman D. Hanna

Ohio State University (OSU)

Kyoung Tae Kim

University of Alabama

Suzanne Lindamood


Date Written: June 19, 2018


The Survey of Consumer Finances (SCF) is the most frequently used dataset for research in this journal, but many researchers and readers do not fully understand some of the dataset’s complex details. This article provides insight into important issues that researchers and readers need to understand to accurately conduct and interpret SCF-based research. The issues addressed include the primary economic unit versus the household, identifying the respondent versus the head, limitations of variables in the survey, imputation and implicates, shadow variables, the public dataset versus the full dataset, weighting of analyses, and the use of replicate weights.

Keywords: Complex Survey Design, Multiple Imputation, Replicate Weights, Statistical Analysis, Survey of Consumer Finances, Survey Research

JEL Classification: C10, C83, D12, J10

Suggested Citation

Hanna, Sherman D. and Kim, Kyoung Tae and Lindamood, Suzanne, Behind the Numbers: Understanding the Survey of Consumer Finances (June 19, 2018). Journal of Financial Counseling and Planning, Forthcoming, Available at SSRN:

Sherman D. Hanna (Contact Author)

Ohio State University (OSU) ( email )

1787 Neil Avenue
Campbell 265D
Columbus, OH 43210
United States
614-292-4584 (Phone)

Kyoung Tae Kim

University of Alabama ( email )

316-C Adams Hall
Tuscaloosa, AL 35487-0001
United States

Suzanne Lindamood

Independent ( email )

Do you have a job opening that you would like to promote on SSRN?

Paper statistics

Abstract Views
PlumX Metrics