Question ordering effects on the reporting of fertility intentions and close social networks.

Paul Mathews, University of Essex

Paul Mathews

Question ordering effects, fertility intentions, close social networks

In surveys, preceding questions can influence respondents’ answers to later questions. As an individual’s opinions toward their own fertility and close social network are highly dependent upon their circumstances, we test whether prior questions might influence the reporting of fertility intentions or close social networks. Our data come from the Innovation Panel of the UK Household Longitudinal Study. We have an experiment contained in waves 4 and 5 of the panel. At the household level participants were randomly allocated to one of two conditions. Approximately half of the participants were asked the questions on their fertility intentions before the measurement of their close social network and the other half were asked the questions on fertility preferences after their close social network questions. Our provisional results show that there is a plausible risk that fertility preferences are responsive to subtle preceding question primes. However, there appears to be less effect on the reporting of close social networks.