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The "Window Problem" in Studies of Children's Attainments: A Methodological Exploration


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  • Barbara Wolfe
  • Robert Haveman
  • Donna Genther
  • Chong-Bum An


Numerous studies of the determinants of children's attainments rely on observations of circumstances and events at age 14 as proxies for information over the entire childhood period. Using 21 years of panel data from the Michigan PSID on 825 children who were 14-16 years old in 1979, we evaluate the effects of using truncated or "window" (e.g., age 14) information in models of the determinants of attainments (e.g., education, nonmarital fertility) of young adults. Correlations between truncated and full-childhood variables are presented, along with 5 tests of the reliability of estimates based on "window" measurements. The tests are designed to evaluate the differential effects of data accuracy, multiple occurrence of events, duration of circumstances, and the timing of events or circumstances during childhood between "window" and full childhood information. We conclude that most of the standard truncated variables serve as weak proxies for multi-year information in such models, and draw the implications of these findings for future data-collection and research.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Technical Working Papers with number 0125.

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Date of creation: Jul 1992
Date of revision:
Publication status: published as JASA, sept. 1996.
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberte:0125

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  1. repec:ese:iserwp:2000-31 is not listed on IDEAS
  2. Arnaud Chevalier & Gauthier Lanot, 2002. "The Relative Effect of Family Characteristics and Financial Situation on Educational Achievement," Education Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 10(2), pages 165-181.
  3. repec:ese:iserwp:2002-21 is not listed on IDEAS
  4. Arnaud Chevalier & Gauthier Lanot, 2001. "The relative effect of family and financial characteristics on educational echievement," CEE Discussion Papers, Centre for the Economics of Education, LSE 0008, Centre for the Economics of Education, LSE.
  5. Daniel Aaronson, 1999. "A note on the benefits of homeownership," Working Paper Series, Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago WP-99-23, Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago.
  6. Hyunjoon Park, 2008. "Effects of single parenthood on educational aspiration and student disengagement in Korea," Demographic Research, Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research, Rostock, Germany, vol. 18(13), pages 377-408, May.
  7. Donna K. Ginther & Robert A. Pollak, 2000. "Does family structure affect children's educational outcomes?," Working Paper, Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta 2000-13, Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta.
  8. Siedler, Thomas, 2006. "Family and Politics: Does Parental Unemployment Cause Right-Wing Extremism?," IZA Discussion Papers 2411, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  9. Oscar A. Mitnik, 2007. "Intergenerational transmission of welfare dependency: The effects of length of exposure," Working Papers, University of Miami, Department of Economics 0715, University of Miami, Department of Economics.
  10. Thomas Siedler, 2007. "Does Parental Unemployment Cause Right-Wing Extremism?," Discussion Papers of DIW Berlin 666, DIW Berlin, German Institute for Economic Research.
  11. L. Quillian, . "How Long Do African Americans Stay in High-Poverty Neighborhoods? An Analysis of Spells," Institute for Research on Poverty Discussion Papers, University of Wisconsin Institute for Research on Poverty 1203-00, University of Wisconsin Institute for Research on Poverty.
  12. Ermisch, John & Francesconi, Marco, 2000. "The Effect of Parents' Employment on Children's Educational Attainment," IZA Discussion Papers 215, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  13. I. Ku & R. D. Plotnick, . "Do Children from Welfare Families Obtain Less Education?," Institute for Research on Poverty Discussion Papers, University of Wisconsin Institute for Research on Poverty 1217-00, University of Wisconsin Institute for Research on Poverty.


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