The Journal of Economic Inequality

, Volume 4, Issue 1, pp 33-55

First online:

Survey nonresponse and the distribution of income

  • Anton KorinekAffiliated withDevelopment Research Group, World Bank
  • , Johan A. MistiaenAffiliated withDevelopment Research Group, World Bank
  • , Martin RavallionAffiliated withDevelopment Research Group, World Bank Email author 

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The paper examines the distributional implications of selective compliance in sample surveys, whereby households with different incomes are not equally likely to participate. Poverty and inequality measurement implications are discussed for monotonically decreasing and inverted-U compliance-income relationships. We demonstrate that the latent income effect on the probability of compliance can be estimated from information on response rates across geographic areas. On implementing the method on the Current Population Survey for the U.S. we find that the compliance probability falls monotonically as income rises. Correcting for nonresponse appreciably increases mean income and inequality, but has only a small impact on poverty incidence up to poverty lines common in the U.S.


income distribution poverty and inequality measurement survey nonresponse