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Cutting the costs of attrition: Results from the Indonesia Family Life Survey

  • Thomas, Duncan
  • Witoelar, Firman
  • Frankenberg, Elizabeth
  • Sikoki, Bondan
  • Strauss, John
  • Sumantri, Cecep
  • Suriastini, Wayan

Attrition is the Achilles heel of longitudinal surveys. Drawing on our experience in the Indonesia Family Life Survey (IFLS), we describe survey design and field strategies that contributed to minimizing attrition over four waves of the survey. The data are used to illustrate the selectivity of respondents who attrit from the survey and, also the selectivity of respondents who move from the place they were interviewed at baseline and are subsequently interviewed in a new location. The results provide insights into the nature of selection that will arise in studies that fail to track and interview movers. Attrition, and types of attrition, are related in complex ways to a broad array of characteristics measured at baseline. In addition, the evidence suggests attrition may be related to characteristics that are not observed in our baseline. Integrating IFLS with data from a Survey of Surveyors, we describe characteristics of both the interviewers and the interview that predict attrition in later waves. These characteristics point to possible strategies that may reduce levels of attrition and may also reduce the impact of attrition on the interpretation of behavioral models estimated with longitudinal data.

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Article provided by Elsevier in its journal Journal of Development Economics.

Volume (Year): 98 (2012)
Issue (Month): 1 ()
Pages: 108-123

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Handle: RePEc:eee:deveco:v:98:y:2012:i:1:p:108-123
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  1. John Fitzgerald & Peter Gottschalk & Robert Moffitt, 1998. "An Analysis of Sample Attrition in Panel Data: The Michigan Panel Study of income Dynamics," Economics Working Paper Archive 379, The Johns Hopkins University,Department of Economics.
  2. Duncan Thomas & Elizabeth Frankenberg & James P. Smith, 2004. "Lost but Not Forgotten: Attrition and Follow-up in the Indonesia Family Life Survey," Labor and Demography 0408007, EconWPA.
  3. Becketti, Sean, et al, 1988. "The Panel Study of Income Dynamics after Fourteen Years: An Evaluatio n," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 6(4), pages 472-92, October.
  4. Daniel H. Hill & Robert J. Willis, 2001. "Reducing Panel Attrition: A Search for Effective Policy Instruments," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 36(3), pages 416-438.
  5. John A. Maluccio, 2004. "Using Quality of Interview Information to Assess Nonrandom Attrition Bias in Developing-Country Panel Data," Review of Development Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 8(1), pages 91-109, 02.
  6. Mark R. Rosenzweig, 2003. "Payoffs from Panels in Low-Income Countries: Economic Development and Economic Mobility," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 93(2), pages 112-117, May.
  7. Thomas MaCurdy & Thomas Mroz & R. Mark Gritz, 1998. "An Evaluation of the National Longitudinal Survey on Youth," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 33(2), pages 345-436.
  8. Jeffrey E. Zabel, 1998. "An Analysis of Attrition in the Panel Study of Income Dynamics and the Survey of Income and Program Participation with an Application to a Model of Labor Market Behavior," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 33(2), pages 479-506.
  9. Rosenzweig, Mark R., 1988. "Labor markets in low-income countries," Handbook of Development Economics, in: Hollis Chenery & T.N. Srinivasan (ed.), Handbook of Development Economics, edition 1, volume 1, chapter 15, pages 713-762 Elsevier.
  10. Falaris, Evangelos M., 2003. "The effect of survey attrition in longitudinal surveys: evidence from Peru, Cote d'Ivoire and Vietnam," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 70(1), pages 133-157, February.
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