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The Quality of Retrospective Reports in the Malaysian Family Life Survey


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  • Megan Beckett
  • Julie DaVanzo
  • Narayan Sastry
  • Constantijn Panis
  • Christine Peterson


In this paper, the authors review studies that have evaluated the quality of retrospective data collected in the 1976-77 and 1988 Malaysian Family Life Surveys. The evaluations considered the internal consistency of the data, expected relationships between variables, comparisons with external contemporaneous data sources, and analyses of replicate reports. The authors summarize what has been learned about data quality by subject area. The topics include: marriage; fertility and fertility-related events, such as contraception, miscarriages, birthweight, and breastfeeding; infant and child mortality; education; housing; earnings; and migration. The authors conclude that accuracy is greater for qualitative reports than for amounts and durations, events associated with major life changes are recalled better, and the quality of reports is greater for more educated respondents and more recent events. The authors discuss the implications of these findings for research and for the design of future surveys.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by RAND Corporation Publications Department in its series Working Papers with number 99-13.

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Length: 41 pages
Date of creation: 1999
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:ran:wpaper:99-13

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Cited by:
  1. Piacentini, Mario, 2008. "Migration Enclaves, Schooling Choices and Social Mobility," MPRA Paper 8376, University Library of Munich, Germany.


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