Why Do Women Think Inflation is Higher Than Men?

| Fri Nov. 16, 2012 10:29 AM EST

Tyler Cowen finds an old article showing that perception of inflation is usually much higher than actual inflation, and that women overestimate it much more than men. Why?

Is it possible that a high perception of inflation is largely the result of a relatively low real income, perhaps mixed in with a slight unwillingness to blame oneself for imperfect labor market prospects? Does this help explain why tight money and stagnant median income have come together?

I'm just guessing, but these don't seem like hard questions. People overestimate inflation because (a) they notice price increases much more than price decreases, and (b) the emotional impact of a few outliers with very high increases is unusually strong. And women overestimate inflation more because they tend to do more grocery shopping than men, thus exposing themselves to prices more routinely.

I can see how those with low incomes would also be more sensitive to price increases, so it makes sense that they also tend to have high estimates of inflation. But I'll bet you ten bucks—no, wait, better make that twenty—that an unwillingness to blame oneself for imperfect labor market prospects plays no role at all. I'd be fascinated to even hear a plausible mechanism for that.