Tuesday, January 28, 2014


[IWS} BLS: New education classification better reflects income and spending patterns in the Consumer Expenditure Survey

IWS Documented News Service


Institute for Workplace Studies----------------- Professor Samuel B. Bacharach

School of Industrial & Labor Relations-------- Director, Institute for Workplace Studies

Cornell University

16 East 34th Street, 4th floor---------------------- Stuart Basefsky

New York, NY 10016 -------------------------------Director, IWS News Bureau



Beyond the Numbers

January 2014 | Vol. 3 / No. 1



New education classification better reflects income and spending patterns in the Consumer Expenditure Survey

By Ann C. Foster




[full-text, 9 pages]



An individual’s level of education and associated earnings profoundly influence spending patterns.1 Published Consumer Expenditure Survey (CE) data tables have shown average expenditures, income, and other consumer unit (CU) characteristics classified by education of the reference person. With the release of calendar year 2012 CE data on September 10, 2013, the education of reference person classification was replaced by the highest education level of any member in the consumer unit.2


The major reason for this change is that the highest level of education attained by any household member more accurately reflects income and spending patterns than does the education level of the reference person only.3 For example, data from the Census Bureau show that the proportion of married couples where the wife is the more educated spouse increased during the 1996—2010 period.4 This means that the education level in families where the husband is designated as the reference person could be understated.





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