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Collecting retrospective data: Accuracy of recall after 50 years judged against historical records

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  • Berney, L. R.
  • Blane, D. B.
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    Abstract

    Recent interest in a lifecourse perspective on health inequalities will rekindle concerns about the accuracy of retrospective data. The present paper demonstrates that recalled information on some types of social circumstances can be obtained with a useful degree of accuracy using an interview technique which helps to minimize recall bias. Lifegrid information about social circumstances during their youth and childhood was collected from 57 subjects in early old age and compared with archive material of the same subjects' social circumstances recorded 50 years previously. A comparison of interview with archive data revealed that a substantial majority of subjects had recalled simple sociodemographic information after a period of 50 years with a useful degree of accuracy. Within lifecourse research, it is concluded, carefully collected retrospective data offer a valuable complement to birth cohort studies, provided that such usage is sensitive to the types of items of information which can, and can not, be recalled accurately.

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    Bibliographic Info

    Article provided by Elsevier in its journal Social Science & Medicine.

    Volume (Year): 45 (1997)
    Issue (Month): 10 (November)
    Pages: 1519-1525

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    Handle: RePEc:eee:socmed:v:45:y:1997:i:10:p:1519-1525

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    Related research

    Keywords: lifecourse health inequalities retrospective data lifegrid;

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    Cited by:
    1. Till Stowasser & Florian Heiss & Daniel McFadden & Joachim Winter, 2013. "Understanding the SES Gradient in Health Among the Elderly: The Role of Childhood Circumstances," NBER Chapters, in: Discoveries in the Economics of Aging National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    2. Danzer, Alexander M. & Dietz, Barbara & Gatskova, Ksenia & Schmillen, Achim, 2014. "Showing off to the new neighbors? Income, socioeconomic status and consumption patterns of internal migrants," Journal of Comparative Economics, Elsevier, vol. 42(1), pages 230-245.
    3. Rebekka Christopoulou & Dean R. Lillard, 2013. "Is Smoking Behavior Culturally Determined?: Evidence from British Immigrants," Discussion Papers of DIW Berlin 1265, DIW Berlin, German Institute for Economic Research.
    4. Webb, Elizabeth Alice & Kuh, Diana & Pajak, Andrzej & Kubinova, Ruzena & Malyutina, Sofia & Bobak, Martin, 2008. "Estimation of secular trends in adult height, and childhood socioeconomic circumstances in three Eastern European populations," Economics & Human Biology, Elsevier, vol. 6(2), pages 228-236, July.
    5. Tampubolon, Gindo, 2010. "Recall error and recall bias in life course epidemiology," MPRA Paper 23847, University Library of Munich, Germany.

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