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Source Selection: Selecting and Evaluating America’s Expenditures

Barry P. Steinberg, Brett Creech, Mary Lynn Schmidt, and Patrick Falwell


The Consumer Expenditure Survey data is obtained from one of two distinct instruments, the Diary Survey and the Interview Survey. The Diary Survey is designed to capture ALL expenses incurred over a two-week period while the Interview Survey generally captures items that can be expected to be recalled for a period of 3-months or longer. The decision as to which survey to use for each Universal Classification Code (UCC) is crucial to the ongoing estimation of expenditures. Over time, the survey questions can change as do the way people respond so it is very important to adapt by identifying which survey provides the best data for all overlapping UCC's. This paper presents a multi-step quantitative method for comparing expenditure data between both surveys so that the best estimate of the mean annual expenditures per household can be obtained.