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December 1994, Vol. 117, No. 12
The Consumer Expenditure Survey: a comparative analysis
E. Raphael Branch
As part of post survey evaluations, the Bureau of Labor Statistics compares results from the Consumer Expenditure (CE) Survey with data from independent sources. The comparisons are used to monitor the consistency of results from the CE Survey and help identify areas in which the survey can be improved. The primary comparison is with Personal Consumption Expenditures (PCE), a component of the National Income and Product Accounts of the Bureau of Economic Analysis. When data cannot be compared for conceptual reasons, comparisons with other independent sources are made. In addition, comparisons are made with sources designed to collect data for a specific category of the CE Survey, such as food or energy.
Two earlier articles in the Review compared 1980-84 CE Survey estimates with data from independent sources. Raymond Gieseman compared estimates from the interview component of the CE Survey with PCE data.1 He also compared detailed estimates of food expenditures from the diary component of the CE Survey with PCE and trade association data. E. Raphael Branch compared CE Survey estimates of out-of-pocket expenditures for health care with estimates of these same expenditures from the National Health Accounts of the Health Care Financing Administration.1 The main difference between this article and the others is that it compares more recent, integrated CE Survey results with estimates from updated and revised sources. The article also compares CE Survey expenditure estimates with estimates from the Residential Energy Consumption Survey and the American Housing Survey. In addition, it includes comparisons of CE Survey estimates of income with income estimates from the Current Population Survey (CPS). Because the CE Survey is based on integrated results and revisions exist in all the data sources (particularly in PCE), ratios presented in this article should not be compared with those in the earlier articles.
This excerpt is from an article published in the December 1994 issue of the Monthly Labor Review. The full text of the article is available in Adobe Acrobat's Portable Document Format (PDF). See How to view a PDF file for more information.
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1 Raymond Gieseman, "The Consumer Expenditure Survey: quality control by comparative analysis," Monthly Labor Review, March 1987, pp. 8-13.
2 E. Ralph Branch, "Comparing medical care expenditures of two diverse U.S. data sources," Monthly Labor Review, March 1987, pp. 15-18.
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