Misreporting of Government Transfers: How Important are Survey Design and Geography?

42 Pages Posted: 23 Jan 2019

See all articles by Bruce D. Meyer

Bruce D. Meyer

University of Chicago - Irving B. Harris Graduate School of Public Policy Studies; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

Nikolas Mittag

University of Chicago - Irving B. Harris Graduate School of Public Policy Studies

Abstract

Recent studies linking household surveys to administrative records reveal high rates of misreporting of program receipt. We use the FoodAPS survey to examine whether the findings of these studies of general household surveys using one or two states generalize to a survey with a narrow focus and across many states. First, we study how reporting errors differ from other surveys. We find a lower rate of false negatives (failures to report true receipt) in FoodAPS, likely partly due to the shorter recall period of FoodAPS. Misreporting varies with household characteristics and between interviewers.Second, we examine geographic heterogeneity in survey error to assess whether we can extrapolate from linked data from a few states. We find systematic differences between states in unconditional error rates but no evidence of substantial differences conditional on common covariates. Thus, extrapolating error rates across states may yield more accurate receipt estimates than uncorrected survey estimates.

Keywords: survey error, administrative data, linked data, SNAP

JEL Classification: C81, D31, I32, I38

Suggested Citation

Meyer, Bruce D. and Mittag, Nikolas, Misreporting of Government Transfers: How Important are Survey Design and Geography?. IZA Discussion Paper No. 12038. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3318813

Bruce D. Meyer (Contact Author)

University of Chicago - Irving B. Harris Graduate School of Public Policy Studies ( 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

Nikolas Mittag

University of Chicago - Irving B. Harris Graduate School of Public Policy Studies ( email )

1155 East 60th Street
Chicago, IL 60637
United States

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