The Survey of Economic Expectations (SEE), Waves 1-8, with data from the UW Survey Center's National Survey

List of Publications

Manski, Charles F. and John D. Straub (2000), "Worker Perceptions of Job Insecurity in the Mid-1990s: Evidence from the Survey of Economic Expectations," Journal Of Human Resources, 35(3), 447-479.

Abstract--This paper analyzes the probabilistic measures of job insecurity that have recently become available through the nationwide Survey of Economic Expectations (SEE). Since 1994, employed SEE respondents have been asked questions eliciting their subjective probabilities of job loss in the coming year and their expectations of a good outcome should they lose their current job and have to engage in job search. The responses of 3,561 persons interviewed from 1994 through early 1998 are analyzed here.

It is found that workers vary considerably in their perceptions of job insecurity, with most workers perceiving little or no risk but some perceiving moderate to high risk. Expectations of job loss tend to decrease markedly with age, but so do expectations of a good outcome should job search become necessary. The net result is that composite job insecurity tends not to vary at all with age. Subjective probabilities of job loss tend to decrease with schooling and subjective probabilities of good search outcomes tend to increase with schooling; hence composite job insecurity tends to decrease with schooling. Perceptions of job insecurity vary little by sex. Perceptions of job insecurity vary substantially by race, the main differences being that subjective probabilities of job loss among blacks tend to be nearly double those of whites. Self-employed workers see themselves as facing less job insecurity than do those who work for others. Worker perceptions of job insecurity peaked in 1995. Expectations within groups are heterogeneous, the covariates (age, schooling, sex, race, employer, year) collectively explaining only a small part of the sample variation in worker expectations.

Moving beyond descriptive analysis, the paper connects the empirical findings to modern theories of the labor market. A competing-risks formalization of job separations by the two routes of job loss and voluntary quits is used to draw conclusions about workers' expectations of exogenous job destruction in the year ahead. The theory of job search is used to interpret the empirical finding that the distribution of search-outcome expectations is symmetric and quite dispersed.

Dominitz, Jeff (1998), "Earnings Expectations, Revisions, and Realizations," Review of Economics and Statistics, 80, 374-388.

Abstract--During the spring and the fall of 1993, respondents to a national household survey were asked to report expectations of spring 1994 weekly earnings.   Elicited in the form of subjective probabilities, these data are potentially much more informative than are typical reports of economic expectations.  Subjective probability distributions of future weekly earnings are estimated for each respondent, based on his or her reports of a series of subjective probabilities.  This paper analyzes the cross-sectional variation in expectations, revisions of expectations between the spring and the fall of 1993, and the relationship between 1993 expectations and the distribution of spring 1994 earnings realizations.  Generally positive findings on the validity of the data bode well for the prospects of eliciting expectations in future surveys.

Dominitz, Jeff and Charles F. Manski (1997a), "Using Expectations Data to Study Subjective Income Expectations," Journal of the American Statistical Association, 92, 855-867.
Please note: 1993 SEE data used in this paper is not included in SEE, waves 1-8. Contact DISC if you like to obtain a copy of this data.

Abstract--We have collected data on the one-year-ahead income expectations of members of American households in our survey of economic expections (SEE), a module of a national continuous telephone survey conducted at the University of Wisconsin.  The income-expectations questions take this form: "What do you think is the percent chance (or what are the chances our of 100) that your total household income, before taxes, will be less than Y over the next 12 months?" We use the responses to a sequence of such questions posed for different income thresholds Y to estimate each respondents' subjective probability distribution for next year's houshold income.   We use the estimates to study the cross-sectional variation in income expectations one year into the future. We find that the estimated subjective interquartile range (IQR) of future income tends to rise with the the estimated subjective median, but more slowly than proportionately. There is substantial variation in the estimated subjective IQR among respondents with the same estimated subjective median; thus respondents appear to have fairly heterogeneous perceptions onf the one-year-ahead income uncertainty they face. Much of the cross-sectional variation in the central tendency of income expectations is associated with realized income, and some of the cross-sectional variation in income uncertainty is associated with realized income, age, and employment status. 

Dominitz, Jeff and Charles F. Manski (1997b), "Perceptions of Economic Insecurity Evidence from the Survey of Economic Expectations," Public Opinion Quarterly, 61, 261-287.

Abstract--The Survey of Economic Expectations (SEE) is a new national survey initiated in an effort to learn how Americans perceived their near-term futures.   This paper uses SEE data on over two thousand labor force participants interviewed in 1994 and 1995 to describe how Americans in the labor force perceive the risk of near-term economic misfortune.  We measure economic insecurity through responses to questions eliciting subjective probabilities of three events in the year ahead: absence of health insurance, victimization by burglary, and job loss. Repondents are willing to describe their expectation in probabilistic terms and they appear to do so in a meaningful way. Using the responses to classify individuals as relatively secure, relatively insecure, and highly insecure,we find that respondents with a high risk of one adverse outcome tend also to perceive high risks of the other outcomes. Males and females have similar resk perceptions, but there is substantial variation in perceptions by schooling and race.  In particular, black males and males with no postsecondary schooling tend to perceive much greater insecurity than do others in the labor force.   Expectations andr ealizations of health insurance coverage and of job loss tend to match up closely, but respondents substantially overpredict the risk of burglary.