Consumption And Savings Balances Of The Elderly: Experimental Evidence On Survey Response Bias Chapter uri icon


  • The unfolding bracket method for eliciting quantitative information in economic surveys is effective in reducing item non-response and outliers, but is vulnerable to bias induced by anchoring. To test for anchoring effects, this study introduced an experimental module in the AHEAD (Asset and Health Dynamics of the Oldest Old) panel in which the unfolding bracket (or gate) sequence varied by treatment. We find that there are strong anchoring effects in the two household variables studied, savings account balances and monthly consumption. We construct a model of anchoring that is successful in capturing much of the effects of anchoring. Thus, it appears that experimental variation in the unfolding bracket design combined with a suitable model of anchoring can be used to predict and undo the biases introduced by anchoring. These conclusions have important implications for the design of quantitative questions in current economic panels such as AHEAD and the Health and Retirement Survey (HRS), and for other applications that use gate designs, such as elicitation of willingness-to-pay by contingent valuation.

author list (cited authors)

  • Hurd, M., McFadden, D., Chand, H., Gan, L., Merrill, A., & Roberts, M.

complete list of authors

  • Hurd, M||McFadden, D||Chand, H||Gan, L||Merrill, A||Roberts, M

editor list (cited editors)

  • Wise, D. A.

Book Title

  • Frontiers in the Economics of Aging

publication date

  • January 1998