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Optimal recall length in survey design


  • Clarke, Philip M.
  • Fiebig, Denzil G.
  • Gerdtham, Ulf-G.


Self-reported data collected via surveys are a key input into a wide range of research conducted by economists. It is well known that such data are subject to measurement error that arises when respondents are asked to recall past utilisation. Survey designers must determine the length of the recall period and face a trade-off as increasing the recall period provides more information, but increases the likelihood of recall error. A statistical framework is used to explore this trade-off. Finally we illustrate how optimal recall periods can be estimated using hospital use data from Sweden's Survey of Living Conditions.

Suggested Citation

  • Clarke, Philip M. & Fiebig, Denzil G. & Gerdtham, Ulf-G., 2008. "Optimal recall length in survey design," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 27(5), pages 1275-1284, September.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:jhecon:v:27:y:2008:i:5:p:1275-1284

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Hausman, J. A. & Abrevaya, Jason & Scott-Morton, F. M., 1998. "Misclassification of the dependent variable in a discrete-response setting," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 87(2), pages 239-269, September.
    2. Philipson, Tomas & Malani, Anup, 1999. "Measurement errors: A principal investigator-agent approach," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 91(2), pages 273-298, August.
    3. Hugo BenĂ­tez-Silva & Moshe Buchinsky & Hiu Man Chan & Sofia Cheidvasser & John Rust, 2004. "How large is the bias in self-reported disability?," Journal of Applied Econometrics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 19(6), pages 649-670.
    4. Griliches, Zvi, 1986. "Economic data issues," Handbook of Econometrics,in: Z. Griliches† & M. D. Intriligator (ed.), Handbook of Econometrics, edition 1, volume 3, chapter 25, pages 1465-1514 Elsevier.
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    Cited by:

    1. Hitczenko, Marcin, 2013. "Optimal recall period length in consumer payment surveys," Working Papers 13-16, Federal Reserve Bank of Boston.
    2. Kirstine Hansen & Dylan Kneale, 2013. "Does How You Measure Income Make a Difference to Measuring Poverty? Evidence from the UK," Social Indicators Research: An International and Interdisciplinary Journal for Quality-of-Life Measurement, Springer, vol. 110(3), pages 1119-1140, February.
    3. Thomas F. Crossley & Joachim K. Winter, 2014. "Asking Households about Expenditures: What Have We Learned?," NBER Chapters,in: Improving the Measurement of Consumer Expenditures, pages 23-50 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    4. Kjellsson, Gustav & Clarke, Philip & Gerdtham, Ulf-G., 2014. "Forgetting to remember or remembering to forget: A study of the recall period length in health care survey questions," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 35(C), pages 34-46.
    5. Buurman, Margaretha & Delfgaauw, Josse & Dur, Robert & Van den Bossche, Seth, 2012. "Public sector employees: Risk averse and altruistic?," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 83(3), pages 279-291.
    6. repec:eee:jfpoli:v:72:y:2017:i:c:p:72-80 is not listed on IDEAS
    7. Lu, Chunling & Liu, Kai & Li, Lingling & Yang, Yuhong, 2017. "Sensitivity of measuring the progress in financial risk protection to survey design and its socioeconomic and demographic determinants: A case study in Rwanda," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 178(C), pages 11-18.
    8. Van Vliet, Olaf & Been, Jim & Caminada, Koen & Goudswaard, Kees, 2011. "Pension reform and income inequality among the elderly in 15 European countries," MPRA Paper 32940, University Library of Munich, Germany.

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