Eliciting the Marginal Propensity to Consume in Surveys

Last registered on May 09, 2022


Trial Information

General Information

Eliciting the Marginal Propensity to Consume in Surveys
Initial registration date
May 08, 2022

Initial registration date is when the trial was registered.

It corresponds to when the registration was submitted to the Registry to be reviewed for publication.

First published
May 09, 2022, 8:33 PM EDT

First published corresponds to when the trial was first made public on the Registry after being reviewed.


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Primary Investigator

European University Institute

Other Primary Investigator(s)

PI Affiliation
Institute for Fiscal Studies
PI Affiliation
University of Oxford
PI Affiliation
University of Essex

Additional Trial Information

In development
Start date
End date
Secondary IDs
Prior work
This trial does not extend or rely on any prior RCTs.
A randomized survey experiment contrasting alternative formats for eliciting the marginal propensity to consume using questions about hypothetical windfalls.
External Link(s)

Registration Citation

Crossley, Thomas et al. 2022. "Eliciting the Marginal Propensity to Consume in Surveys." AEA RCT Registry. May 09. https://doi.org/10.1257/rct.9231
Experimental Details


Intervention Start Date
Intervention End Date

Primary Outcomes

Primary Outcomes (end points)
Marginal Propensity to Consume (MPC)
Primary Outcomes (explanation)
The marginal propensity would be computed as the change in spending reporterd over the amount of the hypothetical income windfall.

Secondary Outcomes

Secondary Outcomes (end points)
Savings and debt responses to a hypothetical windfall
Secondary Outcomes (explanation)

Experimental Design

Experimental Design
We randomly split the Innovation Panel of Understanding Society into groups, and to ask respondents within each group different variants of a question about how their spending, saving and debt responses would respond to receipt of a hypothetical windfall.

In one half of the sample we would ask how much individuals would change their spending after an initial routing question (“would you increase spending, decrease spending or leave spending the same?”). In the second half of the sample, we would immediately ask for a pound change in spending without this routing. Within these treatments, we would also randomly assign individuals to either report how their spending, saving, debt and transfer behaviour would change over the next three months, or to report how it would change over the next twelve months and to either report how they would respond to either a £500 or a £2500 windfall.

We will then compare response across different treatments.
Experimental Design Details
Not available
Randomization Method
The randomisation to treatment will be a simple random allocation of households within primary sampling units, such that all members of a household are assigned to the same treatment.
Randomization Unit
Was the treatment clustered?

Experiment Characteristics

Sample size: planned number of clusters
1,500 households
Sample size: planned number of observations
Aproximately 2,000 individuals
Sample size (or number of clusters) by treatment arms
Aproximately 190 households per treatment arm (1,500/8=187.5)
Minimum detectable effect size for main outcomes (accounting for sample design and clustering)

Institutional Review Boards (IRBs)

IRB Name
Essex University Ethics Sub-Committee 1
IRB Approval Date
IRB Approval Number