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Consumer Expenditure Surveys

Gemini Project to Redesign the Consumer Expenditure Survey

Overview of Redesign

The new design will consist of two waves one year apart from each other. Each wave will consist of the following steps: an Advanced Mailing, a Visit 1: Recall Interview, a Diary Week & Records Collection, and a Visit 2: Records Interview. Wave 1 begins with an Advanced Mailing that describes the survey, explains the importance of survey participation, and includes a $2 cash incentive with information regarding other incentives.

During the first visit to the household a Recall Interview will take place. An interviewer will collect roster and household expenditures via a CAPI instrument. The interview will cover expenditures for the three months prior to the interview month, and will focus on item categories that can be easily recalled over three months. The interview will also include global questions on categories (e.g. clothing) that will be collected in more detail in the diary. During the visit, the interviewer will ask the household to collect expenditure records on categories (e.g. utilities) to be reported in Visit 2. The interviewer will also train the household to complete the individual weekly expenditure diary. Upon completion of the Recall Interview, the respondent will receive a $20 debit card. The interview is intended to average 45 minutes in duration.

The Diary Week begins the day after the first visit. Members 15 years of age or older will fill out individual diaries for the next 7 days. Diary entries will be monitored during the week to identify any problems that may arise, and the interviewer will follow up with the household to encourage continued participation. A $20 debit card will be given to every member who completes a diary. During the week, the household will also assemble records for the upcoming second visit.

The second visit occurs one day after the conclusion of the Diary Week. The interviewer will first review the diaries and attempt to capture any missing data. When that is complete, the Records Interview will begin. This interview will cover the same three-month period as the Recall Interview, but expenditures will be collected from the records assembled by the respondent. At the conclusion of this interview, the respondent will receive a $30 debit card if records were used, or a $20 debit card if no records were used. Similar to the Recall Interview, the Records Interview is intended to average 45 minutes. This concludes Wave 1.

During the 12 months between Wave 1 and Wave 2, the household will receive Respondent Engagement Mailings to maintain rapport and encourage participation in Wave 2. The respondent will receive a postcard or email that expresses thanks for their participation, reiterates the importance of continued participation in the survey, and reminds the respondent when the next wave will take place. Within 1 week of the conclusion of Wave 1, the respondent will also receive a CE Experience Package containing a personalized graph which shows their expenditures compared to national averages and an information sheet listing helpful government websites.

Wave 2 will begin with an Advanced Mailing and continue in the same manner as Wave 1 with the Visit 1: Recall Interview, the Diary Week & Records Collection, and Visit 2: Records Interview.

For more detail on the proposed redesign, please refer to "Consumer Expenditure Survey: Redesign Proposal" prepared by the Gemini Design team (PDF). Note: the decision to include the "Respondent engagement mailings" between waves instead of after wave 2 was made after the redesign proposal was approved, therefore this change is not reflected in the proposal.


Last Modified Date: December 18, 2013