What did you really earn last year?: explaining measurement error in survey income data

Angel, Stefan and Disslbacher, Franziska and Humer, Stefan and Schnetzer, Matthias (2019) What did you really earn last year?: explaining measurement error in survey income data. INEQ Working Paper Series, 13. WU Vienna University of Economics and Business, Vienna.


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This paper analyses the sources of income measurement error in surveys with a unique dataset.We use the Austrian 2008-2011 waves of EU-SILC which provide individual information on wages,pensions and unemployment benefits from survey interviews and officially linked administrativerecords. Thus, we do not have to fall back on complex two-sample matching procedures likerelated studies. We empirically investigate four sources of measurement error, namely (i) socialdesirability, (ii) socio-demographic characteristics of the respondent, (iii) the survey design, and(iv) the presence of learning effects. We find strong evidence for a social desirability bias inincome reporting, while the presence of learning effects is mixed and depends on the income typeunder consideration. An Owen value decomposition reveals that social desirability is a majorexplanation of misreporting in wages and pensions, whereas socio-demographic characteristicsare most relevant for mismatches in unemployment benefits.

Item Type: Paper
Additional Information: This manuscript has been published as Angel, S. , Disslbacher, F. , Humer, S. and Schnetzer, M. (2019), What did you really earn last year?: Explaining measurement error in survey income data. J. R. Stat. Soc. A. doi:10.1111/rssa.12463. Stefan Humer's research is supported by funds of the Oesterreichische Nationalbank (OeNB Anniversary Fund, project number: 16728).
Keywords: Income measurement error; Register data; Response error; Survey data; Survey error; Survey methods
Classification Codes: JEL: C2, C81, C82, C83, D3
Divisions: Forschungsinstitute > Verteilungsfragen
Version of the Document: Accepted for Publication
Variance from Published Version: Typographical
Depositing User: Sarah Beran
Date Deposited: 28 Aug 2019 09:45
Last Modified: 22 Oct 2019 00:41
URI: https://epub.wu.ac.at/id/eprint/7116


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