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Happy times: identification from ordered response data


Liu, Shuo; Netzer, Nick (2020). Happy times: identification from ordered response data. Working paper series / Department of Economics 371, University of Zurich.

Abstract

Surveys are an important tool in economics and in the social sciences more broadly. However, methods used to analyse ordinal survey data (e.g., ordered probit) rely on strong and often unjustified distributional assumptions. In this paper, we propose using survey response times to solve that problem. Our main identifying assumption is that individual response time is decreasing in the distance between the value of the latent variable and an indecision threshold. This assumption is supported by a large body of evidence on chronometric effects in psychology and neuroscience. We provide conditions under which the expected value of the latent variable (e.g., average happiness) can be compared across groups, even without making distributional assumptions. By applying it to an online survey experiment, we show how our method can be implemented in practice and gives rise to new insights.

Abstract

Surveys are an important tool in economics and in the social sciences more broadly. However, methods used to analyse ordinal survey data (e.g., ordered probit) rely on strong and often unjustified distributional assumptions. In this paper, we propose using survey response times to solve that problem. Our main identifying assumption is that individual response time is decreasing in the distance between the value of the latent variable and an indecision threshold. This assumption is supported by a large body of evidence on chronometric effects in psychology and neuroscience. We provide conditions under which the expected value of the latent variable (e.g., average happiness) can be compared across groups, even without making distributional assumptions. By applying it to an online survey experiment, we show how our method can be implemented in practice and gives rise to new insights.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Working Paper
Communities & Collections:03 Faculty of Economics > Department of Economics
Working Paper Series > Department of Economics
Dewey Decimal Classification:330 Economics
JEL Classification:C14, D60, D91, I31
Uncontrolled Keywords:Surveys, ordinal data, response times, non-parametric identification
Language:English
Date:December 2020
Deposited On:18 Dec 2020 16:47
Last Modified:18 Dec 2020 16:47
Series Name:Working paper series / Department of Economics
Number of Pages:39
ISSN:1664-705X
OA Status:Green
Official URL:https://www.econ.uzh.ch/en/research/workingpapers.html?paper-id=1053

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