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Income Imputation and the Analysis of Expenditure Data in the Consumer Expenditure Survey

Jonathan D. Fisher


The Consumer Expenditure (CE) Survey began imputing income in its 2004 data. Imputation predicts income for households that reported receiving income but failed to report a specific value. In this study, I examine how income imputation affects analysis of the CE expenditure data. Most importantly, research that uses both income and expenditures from 2004 on will not have to restrict the sample to households that reported income. The expenditure results most sensitive to the introduction of income imputation are statistics that focus on households with low levels of expenditures.