Frontiers of Measuring Household Economic Behavior Workshop Frontiers of Measuring Household Economic Behavior Workshop

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Friday, April 27, 2015
8:00 a.m. - 6:30 p.m.
Connolly Center, 4th Floor
Federal Reserve Bank of Boston
600 Atlantic Avenue

8:00 a.m.

Breakfast and Registration

8:25 Welcome
Scott Schuh (Boston Fed)


Reconciling macro and micro estimates of U.S. household income and expenditures
This session will examine the similarities and differences between macroeconomic data (from National Income Accounts) and microeconomic data (from surveys such as the CPS, CE, SCF, and others) and discuss potential ways to reconcile differences.  Specific attention will be given to understanding the best ways to construct household economic data that is most amenable to estimating and testing standard models of household behavior and welfare.

Moderator: Daniel Cooper (Federal Reserve Bank of Boston)

Household Income, Demand, and Saving: Deriving Macro Data with Micro Data Concepts
Barry Cynamon (Washington University, St. Louis)
Presentation pdf

A Consistent Data Series to Evaluate Growth and Inequality in the National Accounts pdf
David S. Johnson (Bureau of Economic Analysis)
Presentation pdf












Theory and application of financially integrated measures household behavior
This session will introduce the methodology of surveying household behavior described in Households as Corporate Firms by Krislert Sampantharak and Robert Townsend (Cambridge University Press, 2009), which is based on lessons learned from more than two decades of Thai household surveys.  It will also include the results of a broad-based analysis of how the Sampantharak-Townsend (ST) methodology applies to major U.S. surveys of households and consumers, with particular emphasis on the Boston Fed's Survey and Diary of Consumer Payment Choice as a potential application of the ST methodology.

Moderator: María Luengo-Prado (Federal Reserve Bank of Boston)

Integrated Household Surveys and Corporate Financial Accounting: Lessons from Thailand
Robert Townsend (MIT)
Presentation pdf

Integrated Household Surveys and Corporate Financial Accounting: Applications to Surveys of U.S. Households and Consumers
Scott Schuh (Boston Fed) and Robert Townsend (MIT)
Presentation pdf

12:00 p.m.

Lunch and poster session: Surveys and data sources
Representatives from major U.S. household or consumer surveys will exhibit and discuss their data products.  Workshop participants can visit representatives at their leisure and learn more about the products of interest to them.


Innovations in survey methodology and administrative data
This session features two research projects that use innovative approaches to collect data by combining the use of surveys with access to administrative data on household behavior.

Moderator: Richard Curtin (University of Michigan)

Strategic Survey Methods and Life Cycle Models
Andrew Caplin (NYU)
Presentation pdf

Measuring Income and Wealth at the Top Using Administrative and Survey Data pdf
John Sabelhaus (Federal Reserve Board)
Presentation pdf




Using personal financial management (PFM) tools to collect data
PFM tools such as Mint, Mint Bills (formerly Check), Yodlee, Ready For Zero, Wesabe, Geezeo, You Need a Budget, and Bill Shrink, are becoming increasingly popular for managing consumer spending, saving, and asset management.  In recent years, researchers have gained access to these data and used them to study household economic behavior.  Can such PFM tools be used to complement or even replace traditional methods of data collection such as surveys, diaries, and administrative data?  What are the pros and cons of these types of tools for consumers and for researchers?

Moderator: Arie Kapteyn (USC Dornsife Center)


  • Scott Baker (Northwestern)
    Presentation pdf
  • Teresa Kuchler (NYU)
    Presentation pdf
  • Matthew Shapiro (University of Michigan)
  • Chris Carroll (Johns Hopkins/CFPB)


Diaries and other recording of household economic behavior
The use of diaries to track and record household economic behavior has increased in recent years. Examples include the Consumer Expenditure Survey diary and various Central Bank consumer payment diaries.  Diaries have several advantages over surveys, such less recall error, but they are also more difficult and costly.  How successful have household diaries been at measuring household economic behavior?  Have the benefits outweighed the costs?  Are there potential ways to expand and improve diary methods to obtain better data on household economic behavior? What data security issues arise with online and mobile instruments? What lessons can we take away from high-frequency longitudinal interviews? What are considerations for members of the economic measurement community seeking to obtain data from administrative sources and private-sector data providers?

Moderator: Scott Fulford (Boston College and Boston Fed)



Closing comments and discussion