Discussion paper

DP14730 The Insights and Illusions of Consumption Measurements

While household well-being derives from long-term average rates of consumption, welfare comparisons typically rely on shorter-duration survey measurements. We develop a new strategy to identify the distribution of these long-term rates by leveraging a large-scale randomization that elicited repeated short-duration measurements from diaries and recall questions. Identification stems from diary-recall differences in reports from the same household, does not require reports to be error-free, and hinges on a research design with broad replicability. Our strategy delivers cost-effective suggestions for designing survey modules that yield the closest measurements of consumption well-being, and offers new insights to interpret and reconcile diary-recall differences in household surveys.


Battistin, E, M De Nadai and N Krishnan (2020), ‘DP14730 The Insights and Illusions of Consumption Measurements‘, CEPR Discussion Paper No. 14730. CEPR Press, Paris & London. https://cepr.org/publications/dp14730