Understanding and reducing income reporting error in household surveys

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Understanding Society Working Paper Series


Jonathan Burton, Thomas F. Crossley, Paul Fisher, Alessandra Gaia and Annette Jäckle

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surveys remain a key data source for measuring living standards and inequality.
Survey data on incomes are known to suffer from reporting and non-response errors.
In this paper, we implement and test a method that attempts to reduce errors
directly in the data collection process, rather than mitigating them
econometrically at the analysis stage. We experimentally test two versions of
an Editable Summary Screen. We find that both versions elicit improvements in
data quality that are large enough to change measured inequality. The
experiment also provides new evidence on the nature of errors in survey income


Households, Survey Methodology and Income Dynamics

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