WASHINGTON, D. C.  20551
Alan Greenspan
May 1, 2004

Dear Fellow American:

I am writing to ask for your help through participation in a survey about consumer finances. Although good overall information on the state of the major sectors of the economy is available regularly, our knowledge about the financial circumstances faced by different types of households is much more limited. Our survey fills a key part of this gap. The results of our previous surveys, which date back to 1962, have provided important information for making policy decisions both here at the Federal Reserve and in other parts of the government.

We have contracted with NORC, a social science research organization at the University of Chicago, to undertake our 2004 survey for us. Within the next few months, a specially trained interviewer from NORC will contact you to request an appointment for an interview.

You have been randomly selected for this survey based on a scientific design that allows a relatively small number of families, who voluntarily share their information, to represent the nation. Though this selection process minimizes the number of people we need to ask to participate, it greatly magnifies the statistical importance of every case. Thus, your answers are critical to the representativeness of the data. Participation in the study is strictly voluntary, but I urge you to take part.

Let me assure you that protecting the privacy of the survey participants has the highest priority in our data collection system. NORC will never link any identifying information with your answers, and all identifying information generated in the execution of the survey will be destroyed promptly once the survey operations are completed. Neither I nor anyone else at the Federal Reserve is allowed to know your name--indeed, for this reason, the salutation of this letter is not personalized.

The interviewer who contacts you can provide additional information about the way participants' answers will be used. Also, you may review some highlights of the 2001 survey in the January 2003 issue of the Federal Reserve Bulletin on the Federal Reserve web site at

I would like to thank you in advance for your cooperation in our efforts.

Signature of Alan Greenspan

Return to topReturn to top