Have you ever wondered who determines whether you’re more likely to buy a blender this month compared to last month?

The answer may be closer than you think.

For decades University researchers have been the ones behind the consumer confidence reports, which gauge the health of the economy by asking people about their spending habits and financial outlook.

Alongside the Reuters News service, the University publishes the Reuters/University of Michigan Survey of Consumers twice a month through the University’s Institute for Social Research.

Researchers at the Institute interview about 500 people for each survey.

The participants are asked about 50 questions that hint at five more general ones, which are: Is your family economically better off now? Will your family be better off in a year? In the next 12 months is the country bound for good financial times or bad ones? In the next five years will there be lots of unemployment and economic problems or lucrative gains? Is now a good time to buy expensive products for your home?

The information in the survey is meant to provide insight into what average citizens are thinking when it comes to the economy and is used by all kinds of business and public policy organizations and publications to gauge how households will spend their money based on their predictions of whether the economy is thriving or struggling.

Recently, Forbes published a story based on the Survey with the headline that read “US early March Reuters/Michigan survey sees rise in short-term inflation” reporting that consumers anticipated a comparatively high inflation rate over the next year.

University Researcher and Economist Richard Curtin has headed the survey since 1976.

The University publishes and archives the results of each survey over the past few years on its website.

The Institute for Social Research publishes a number of other studies besides the survey concerning the economy, politics and health.

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