Consumer Attitudes and the Epidemiology of Inflation Expectations

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This paper studies the formation of consumers’ inflation expectations using micro-level data from the Michigan Survey. It shows that beyond the well-established socio-economic determinants of inflation expectations such as gender, income or education, other characteristics such as the households’ financial situation and their purchasing attitudes also matter. Respondents with current or expected financial difficulties, pessimistic attitudes about major purchases, or expectations that income will go down in the future have considerably higher forecast errors, are further away from professional forecasts, and have a stronger upward bias in their expectations than other households. However, their bias shrinks by more than that of the average household in response to increasing media reporting about inflation.

JEL Code(s): C, C5, C53, D, D8, D84, E, E3, E31