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Survey Item-Response Behavior as an Imperfect Proxy for Unobserved Ability: Theory and Application

Sonja Kassenboehmer and Stefanie Schurer ()
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Stefanie Schurer: University of Sydney

No 11449, IZA Discussion Papers from Institute of Labor Economics (IZA)

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: selection on unobservables; personality traits; survey item-response behavior; imperfect proxy variables; behavioral proxy; cognitive ability (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: J24 C18 C83 I20 J30 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
New Economics Papers: this item is included in nep-exp, nep-lma and nep-neu
Date: 2018-04
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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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