No. 466 - What do we learn from recall consumption data?

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by E. Battistin, R. Miniaci and G. Weber February 2003

In this paper we use two complementary Italian data sources (the 1995 Istat and Bank of Italy household surveys) to generate household-specific non-durable expenditure in the Bank of Italy sample that contains relatively high-quality income data. We show that food expenditure data are of comparable quality and informational content across the two surveys, once heaping, rounding and time averaging are properly accounted for. We therefore depart from standard practice and rely on the estimation of an inverse Engel curve on Istat data to impute non-durable expenditure to Bank of Italy observations, and show how these estimates can be used to analyse consumption age profiles conditional on demographics. Our key result is that predictions based on a standard set of demographic and socioeconomic indicators are quite different from predictions that also condition on simulated food consumption, in the sense that their age profile is less in line with the implications of the standard consumer intertemporal optimization problem.

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