The Consumer Expenditure Survey (CE) program provides a continuous and comprehensive flow of data on the buying habits of American consumers. These data are used widely in economic research and analysis, and in support of revisions of the Consumer Price Index. To meet the needs of users, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) produces population estimates for consumer units (CUs) of average expenditures in news releases, reports, issues, and articles in the Monthly Labor Review. Tabulated CE data are also available on the Internet and by facsimile transmission (See Section XV. APPENDIX 4). The microdata are available online at http://www/bls.gov/cex/pumdhome.htm.
These microdata files present detailed expenditure and income data for the Diary component of the CE for 2003. They include weekly expenditure (EXPD) and annual income (DTBD) files. The data in EXPD and DTBD files are categorized by a Universal Classification Code (UCC). The advantage of the EXPD and DTBD files is that with the data classified in a standardized format, the user may perform comparative expenditure (or income) analysis with relative ease. The FMLD and MEMD files present data on the characteristics and demographics of CUs and CU members. The summary level expenditure and income information on the FMLD files permits the data user to link consumer spending, by general expenditure category, and household characteristics and demographics on one set of files.
Estimates of average expenditures in 2003 from the Diary survey, integrated with data from the Interview survey, are published in Consumer Expenditures in 2003. A list of recent publications containing data from the CE appears at the end of this documentation.
The microdata files are in the public domain and with appropriate credit, may be reproduced without permission. A suggested citation is: "U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics, Consumer Expenditure Survey, Diary Survey, 2003".
Since the CE is not designed to produce state-level estimates, summing the consumer unit weights by state will not yield state population totals. A CU's basic weight reflects its probability of selection among a group of primary sampling units of similar characteristics. For example, sample units in an urban nonmetropolitan area in California may represent similar areas in Wyoming and Nevada. Among other adjustments, CUs are post-stratified nationally by sex-age-race. For example, the weights of consumer units containing a black male, age 16-24 in Alabama, Colorado, or New York, are all adjusted equivalently. Therefore, weighted population state totals will not match population totals calculated from other surveys that are designed to represent state data.
To summarize, the CE sample was not designed to produce precise estimates for individual states. Although state-level estimates that are unbiased in a repeated sampling sense can be calculated for various statistical measures, such as means and aggregates, their estimates will generally be subject to large variances. Additionally, a particular state-population estimate from the CE sample may be far from the true state-population estimate.
INTERPRETING THE DATA
Several factors should be considered when interpreting the expenditure data. The average expenditure for an item may be considerably lower than the expenditure by those CUs that purchased the item. The less frequently an item is purchased, the greater the difference between the average for all consumer units and the average of those purchasing. (See Section V.B. for ESTIMATION OF TOTAL AND MEAN EXPENDITURES). Also, an individual CU may spend more or less than the average, depending on its particular characteristics. Factors such as income, age of family members, geographic location, taste and personal preference also influence expenditures. Furthermore, even within groups with similar characteristics, the distribution of expenditures varies substantially.
Expenditures reported are the direct out-of-pocket expenditures. Indirect expenditures, which may be significant, may be reflected elsewhere. For example, rental contracts often include utilities. Renters with such contracts would record no direct expense for utilities, and therefore, appear to have no utility expenses. Employers or insurance companies frequently pay other costs. CUs with members whose employers pay for all or part of their health insurance or life insurance would have lower direct expenses for these items than those who pay the entire amount themselves. These points should be considered when relating reported averages to individual circumstances.
The Diary survey PUMD are organized into five major data files for each quarter:
1. FMLD - a file with characteristics, income, and summary level expenditures for the household
2. MEMD - a file with characteristics and income for each member in the household
3. EXPD - a detailed weekly expenditure file categorized by UCC
4. DTBD - a detailed annual income file categorized by UCC
5. DTID - a household imputed income file categorized by UCC
Kind of Data
Sample survey data [ssd]
Unit of Analysis
- Food and Drinks Away from Home
- Food for Home Consumption
- Food and Beverages Purchased as Gifts
- Clothing, Shoes, and Jewelry
- All Other Purchases and Expenses
Producers and sponsors
United States Census Bureau
A. SURVEY SAMPLE DESIGN
Samples for the CE are national probability samples of households designed to be representative of the total U. S. civilian population. Eligible population includes all civilian noninstitutional persons.
The first step in sampling is the selection of primary sampling units (PSUs), which consist of counties (or parts thereof) or groups of counties. The set of sample PSUs used for the 2003 sample is composed of 105 areas. The design classifies the PSUs into four categories:
• 31 "A" certainty PSUs are Metropolitan Statistical Areas (MSA's) with a population greater than 1.5 million.
• 46 "B" PSUs, are medium-sized MSA's.
• 10 "C" PSUs are nonmetropolitan areas that are included in the CPI.
• 18 "D" PSUs are nonmetropolitan areas where only the urban population data will be included in the CPI.
The sampling frame (that is, the list from which housing units were chosen) for the 2003 survey is generated from the 1990 Population Census 100-percent-detail file. The sampling frame is augmented by new construction permits and by techniques used to eliminate recognized deficiencies in census coverage. All Enumeration Districts (ED's) from the Census that fail to meet the criterion for good addresses for new construction, and all ED's in nonpermit-issuing areas are grouped into the area segment frame.
To the extent possible, an unclustered sample of units is selected within each PSU. This lack of clustering is desirable because the sample size of the Diary Survey is small relative to other surveys, while the intraclass correlations for expenditure characteristics are relatively large. This suggests that any clustering of the sample units could result in an unacceptable increase in the within-PSU variance and, as a result, the total variance.
Each selected sample unit is requested to keep two 1-week diaries of expenditures over consecutive weeks. The earliest possible day for placing a diary with a household is predesignated with each day of the week having an equal chance to be the first of the reference week. The diaries are evenly spaced throughout the year. During the last 6 weeks of the year, however, the Diary Survey sample is supplemented to twice its normal size to increase the reporting of types of expenditures unique to the holidays.
B. COOPERATION LEVELS
The annual target sample size at the United States level for the Diary Survey is 7,800 participating sample units. To achieve this target the total estimated work load is 11,275 sample units. This allows for refusals, vacancies, or nonexistent sample unit addresses.
Each participating sample unit selected is asked to keep two 1-week diaries. Each diary is treated independently, so response rates are based on twice the number of housing units sampled.
The response rate for the 2003 Diary Survey is 73.4%. This response rate refers to all diaries in the year.
Each CU included in the CE represents a given number of CUs in the U.S. population, which is considered to be the universe. The translation of sample families into the universe of families is known as weighting. However, since the unit of analysis for the CE is a CU, the weighting is performed at the CU level. Several factors are involved in determining the weight for each CU for which a diary is obtained. There are four basic steps in the weighting procedure:
1) The basic weight is assigned to an address and is the inverse of the probability of selection of the housing unit.
2) A weight control factor is applied to each diary if subsampling is performed in the field.
3) A noninterview adjustment is made for units where data could not be collected from occupied housing units. The adjustment is performed as a function of region, housing tenure, family size and race.
4) A final adjustment is performed to adjust the sample estimates to national population controls derived from the Current Population Survey. The adjustments are made based on both the CU's member composition and on the CU as a whole. The weight for the CU is adjusted for individuals within the CU to meet the controls for the 14 age/race categories, 4 regions, and 4 region/urban categories. The CU weight is also adjusted to meet the control for total number of CUs and total number of CU who own their living quarters. The weighting procedure uses an iterative process to ensure that the sample estimates will meet all the population controls.
NOTE: The weight for a consumer unit (CU) can be different for each week in which the CU participates in the survey as the CU may represent a different number of CUs with similar characteristics.
Dates of Data Collection
Data Collection Mode
Computer Assisted Personal Interview [capi]
Use of the dataset must be acknowledged using a citation which would include:
- the Identification of the Primary Investigator
- the title of the survey (including country, acronym and year of implementation)
- the survey reference number
- the source and date of download
United States Census Bureau. United States Consumer Expenditure Diary Survey (CES-DS) 2003. Ref. USA_2003_CES-DS_v01_M. Dataset downloaded from [URL] on [date].
The user of the data acknowledges that the original collector of the data, the authorized distributor of the data, and the relevant funding agency bear no responsibility for use of the data or for interpretations or inferences based upon such uses.
DDI Document ID
International Labour organization
Date of Metadata Production
DDI Document version
Version 02 (September 2016): Edited version based on Version 01 DDI (DDI_USA_2003_CES_DS_V01_M) that was done by International Labour Organisation.