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November 2006

Income imputation and the analysis of consumer expenditure data

Jonathan D. Fisher

The Consumer Expenditure (CE) Survey now provides imputed income data from 2004 forward for households that fail to report a specific income value. This study examines how income imputation affects analysis of the CE Survey's expenditure data. Most importantly, research that uses both income and expenditures from 2004 on will not have to restrict the sample to households that reported income. Results most sensitive to the introduction of income imputation are statistics that focus on households with lower levels of expenditures, such as the consumption expenditure poverty rate.

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