Consumer Expenditure Survey, 2011: Interview Survey and Detailed Expenditure Files (ICPSR 34441)

Version Date: Nov 5, 2012 View help for published

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United States Department of Labor. Bureau of Labor Statistics


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The Consumer Expenditure Survey (CE) program provides a continuous and comprehensive flow of data on the buying habits of American consumers including data on their expenditures, income, and consumer unit (families and single consumers) characteristics. These data are used widely in economic research and analysis, and in support of revisions of the Consumer Price Index.

The CE program is comprised of two separate components (each with its own questionnaire and independent sample), the quarterly Interview Survey and the Diary Survey (ICPSR 34442). This data collection contains the quarterly Interview Survey data, which was designed to collect data on major items of expense which respondents could be expected to recall for 3 months or longer. These included relatively large expenditures, such as those for property, automobiles, and major durable goods, and those that occurred on a regular basis, such as rent or utilities. The Interview Survey does not collect data on expenses for housekeeping supplies, personal care products, and nonprescription drugs, which contribute about 5 to 15 percent of total expenditures.

The microdata in this collection are available as SAS, SPSS, and STATA datasets or ASCII comma-delimited files. The 2011 Interview Survey release contains seven groups of Interview data files (FMLY, MEMB, MTBI, ITBI, ITII, FPAR, and MCHI), 50 EXPN files, and processing files.

The FMLY, MEMB, MTBI, ITBI, and ITII files are organized by the calendar quarter of the year in which the data were collected. There are five quarterly datasets for each of these files, running from the first quarter of 2011 through the first quarter of 2012. The FMLY file contains consumer unit (CU) characteristics, income, and summary level expenditures; the MEMB file contains member characteristics and income data; the MTBI file contains expenditures organized on a monthly basis at the Universal Classification Code (UCC) level; the ITBI file contains income data converted to a monthly time frame and assigned to UCCs; and the ITII file contains the five imputation variants of the income data converted to a monthly time frame and assigned to UCCs.

The FPAR and MCHI datasets are grouped as 2-year datasets (2010 and 2011), plus the first quarter of the 2012 and contain paradata about the Interview survey. The FPAR file contains CU level data about the Interview survey, including timing and record use. The MCHI file contains data about each interview contact attempt, including reasons for refusal and times of contact. Both FPAR and MCHI files contain five quarters of data.

The EXPN files contain expenditure data and ancillary descriptive information, often not available on the FMLY or MTBI files, in a format similar to the Interview questionnaire. In addition to the extra information available on the EXPN files, users can identify distinct spending categories easily and reduce processing time due to the organization of the files by type of expenditure. Each of the 50 EXPN files contains five quarters of data, directly derived from their respective questionnaire sections.

The processing files enhance computer processing and tabulation of data, and provide descriptive information on item codes. The processing files are: (1) aggregation scheme files used in the published consumer expenditure survey interview tables and integrated tables (ISTUB and INTSTUB), (2) a UCC file that contains UCCs and their abbreviated titles, identifying the expenditure, income, or demographic item represented by each UCC, (3) a vehicle make file (CAPIVEHI), and (4) files containing sample programs. The processing files are further explained in the Interview User Guide, Section III.G.8. "PROCESSING FILES." There is also a second user guide, User's Guide to Income Imputation in the CE, which includes information on how to appropriately use the imputed income data.

Demographic and family characteristics data include age, sex, race, marital status, and CU relationships for each CU member. Income information, such as wage, salary, unemployment compensation, child support, and alimony, as well as information on the employment of each CU member age 14 and over was also collected.

United States Department of Labor. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Consumer Expenditure Survey, 2011: Interview Survey and Detailed Expenditure Files. Ann Arbor, MI: Inter-university Consortium for Political and Social Research [distributor], 2012-11-05.

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Inter-university Consortium for Political and Social Research
2010 -- 2012
2010 -- 2012 (Paradata: 2010-2011 and first quarter of 2012; Interview Data: 2011 and first quarter of 2012; Expenditure Data: 2011)
These data are distributed exactly as they arrived from the data depositor. ICPSR has not processed this material. Users should consult the investigators via the Consumer Expenditure Survey Web page for additional information. The Interview User Guide documentation does not include an explanation of all information in the EXPN files. Users are strongly encouraged to refer to the questionnaire. Survey forms, as well as the CAPI questionnaire, are available on the Consumer Expenditure Survey Web page.

Every record from each data file includes the variable NEWID, the CU's unique identification number, which is used to link records of one CU from several files across all quarters in which they participate.

National probability sample of households designed to represent the total United States non-institutionalized civilian population.

Eligible population includes all civilian non-institutional persons.

survey data


2018-02-15 The citation of this study may have changed due to the new version control system that has been implemented. The previous citation was:
  • United States Department of Labor. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Consumer Expenditure Survey, 2011: Interview Survey and Detailed Expenditure Files. ICPSR34441-v1. Ann Arbor, MI: Inter-university Consortium for Political and Social Research [distributor], 2012-11-05.

The files include weights needed to calculate population estimates and variances. There are 45 weights associated with each consumer unit. Please refer to the User Guide documentation for a detailed explanation of the weight variables used.


  • Data in this collection are available only to users at ICPSR member institutions.

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