Improving the reliability of measures of change from panel surveys

Publication type

Conference Paper

Authors

Annette Jäckle, Emanuela Sala, S.C. Noah Uhrig and Fred Conrad

Publication date

Abstract

Measuring how people's social and economic circumstances change over time is a key purpose of household panel surveys. Levels of change are, however, often over-estimated in panel surveys: responses to a question are often not consistent across interviews, even if the respondent's situation has not changed (e.g. Lynn and Sala 2006). Dependent interviewing (DI) has been proposed and used as a tool to reduce spurious change and increase the longitudinal consistency of responses. However simply reminding respondents of a previous response or adding an edit check does not necessarily solve problems with the underlying question (see, Jäckle 2008). In addition, researchers frequently voice concern that reminding respondents of answers they have given in previous interviews may encourage acquiescence (i.e., agreement with a statement regardless of its content), which may swap the problem of spurious change for the problem of spurious stability.

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