Studies of Welfare Populations: Data Collection and Research Issues. Measurement Error in Household Reports of Income

06/01/2002

As noted by Moore et al. (1999), the reporting of income by household respondents in many surveys can be characterized as a two-step process: the first involving the correct enumeration of sources of household income and the second, the accurate reporting of the amount of the income for the specific source. They find that response error in the reporting of various sources and amounts of income may be due to a large extent to cognitive factors, such as "definitional issues, recall and salience problems, confusion, and sensitivity" (p. 155). We return to these cognitive factors when considering alternative means for reducing measurement error in surveys of the low-income population.

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