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Survey item-response behavior as an imperfect proxy for unobserved ability: Theory and application

Sonja C. Kassenboehmer () and Stefanie Schurer ()
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Sonja C. Kassenboehmer: Monash University

Authors registered in the RePEc Author Service: Sonja Cornelia de New

No 2018-035, Working Papers from Human Capital and Economic Opportunity Working Group

Abstract: We develop and test an economic model of the cognitive and non-cognitive foundations of survey item- response behavior. We show that a summary measure of response behaviour – the survey item-response rate (SIRR) – varies with cognitive and less so with non-cognitive abilities, has a strong individual fixed component and is predictive of economic outcomes because of its relationship with ability. We demonstrate the usefulness of SIRR, although an imperfect proxy for cognitive ability, to reduce omitted-variable biases in estimated wage returns. We derive both necessary and sufficient conditions under which the use of an imperfect proxy reduces such biases, providing a general guideline for researchers.

Keywords: survey item-response behavior; imperfect proxy variables; behavioral proxy; cognitive ability; personality traits; selection on unobservables (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: J24 C18 C83 I20 J30 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2018-06
New Economics Papers: this item is included in nep-hea and nep-neu
Note: ECI
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Working Paper: Survey Item-Response Behavior as an Imperfect Proxy for Unobserved Ability: Theory and Application (2018) Downloads
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