Conclusion 5-9: The use of proxy reporting on the CE Interview is problematic, and is a potential cause of underreporting of expenditures.

Telephone Data Collection in the Interview Survey

More than one-third (about 38 percent) of the CE interviews are completed by telephone rather than face-to-face (Safir and Goldenberg, 2008). For in-person interviews, field representatives hand an Information Booklet to respondents to assist them in recalling items that might be forgotten. In telephone interviews, this recall aid is not available. Telephone interviews are shorter and have fewer positive answers to screener questions. They also result in less detail in responding, higher item nonresponse, and more reporting of rounded values. According to the field representative survey, receipts and other records are also less likely to be used by telephone respondents.

Conclusion 5-10: Telephone interviews appear to obtain a lower quality of responses than the face-to-face interviews on the CE, but a substantial part of the CE data is collected over the telephone.


The Diary survey collects data on expenditures a household makes during a brief period of time (two weeks). It was designed to collect a level of detail unlikely to be recalled accurately during the Interview survey. Cognitively, the Diary survey is very different from the Interview survey, and has its own error profile.

Motivation to Complete the Diary

The current CE Diary is designed to reduce recall problems by emphasizing the recording of expenditures the day they are made. However, respondents in the CE Diary have little apparent motivation to engage in a complex, protracted diary-keeping exercise. Once a household member agrees to participate in the CE Diary survey, he or she discovers that the task can be difficult and time-consuming. Some respondents do not record expenditures each day. Expense items may be reported early in the week, with less enthusiasm later in the week, and even less enthusiasm during the second week. This lapse may be caused by general fatigue with the process and/or the fact that the respondent found the diary form difficult to use. Statistics Canada found the same concern with the diary portion of their consumer survey, reporting that 20 percent of their two-week diary days were “nonrespondent” days (Dubreuil et al., 2010). This lack of motivation

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