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Studying Consumption with the Panel Study of Income Dynamics: Comparisons with the Consumer Expenditure Survey and an Application to the Intergenerational Transmission of Well-being

Publication Abstract

Download PDF versionCharles, Kerwin, Sheldon H. Danziger, Geng Li, and Robert F. Schoeni. 2006. "Studying Consumption with the Panel Study of Income Dynamics: Comparisons with the Consumer Expenditure Survey and an Application to the Intergenerational Transmission of Well-being." PSC Research Report No. 06-590. February 2006.

Beginning in 1999, the Panel Study of Income Dynamics (PSID) added new questions about several categories of consumption expenditure. The PSID now covers items that constitute more than 70 percent of total expenditure measured in the Consumer Expenditure Survey (CE). We show that expenditure for each of the broad categories in the PSID aligns closely with corresponding measures from the CE. Using the new PSID data, we impute total expenditure in the PSID and show that this is also very close to total measured CE expenditure. For several distinct categories and for total consumption, we show that cross-sectional life cycle estimates of household expenditure activity are very similar across the two surveys. Finally, we illustrate the unique research value of the PSID for studying consumption by exploiting the survey’s longitudinal design and genealogical structure to estimate the intergenerational elasticity of consumption expenditure, which is found to be 0.32-0.34.

Country of focus: United States.

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