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Panel Conditioning in Longitudinal Studies: Evidence From Labor Force Items in the Current Population Survey

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  • Andrew Halpern-Manners

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  • John Warren

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Abstract

Does participating in a longitudinal survey affect respondents’ answers to subsequent questions about their labor force characteristics? In this article, we investigate the magnitude of panel conditioning or time-in-survey biases for key labor force questions in the monthly Current Population Survey (CPS). Using linked CPS records for household heads first interviewed between January 2007 and June 2010, our analyses are based on strategic within-person comparisons across survey months and between-person comparisons across CPS rotation groups. We find considerable evidence for panel conditioning effects in the CPS. Panel conditioning downwardly biases the CPS-based unemployment rate, mainly by leading people to remove themselves from its denominator. Across surveys, CPS respondents (claim to) leave the labor force in greater numbers than otherwise equivalent respondents who are participating in the CPS for the first time. The results cannot be attributed to panel attrition or mode effects. We discuss implications for CPS-based research and policy as well as for survey methodology more broadly. Copyright Population Association of America 2012

Suggested Citation

  • Andrew Halpern-Manners & John Warren, 2012. "Panel Conditioning in Longitudinal Studies: Evidence From Labor Force Items in the Current Population Survey," Demography, Springer;Population Association of America (PAA), vol. 49(4), pages 1499-1519, November.
  • Handle: RePEc:spr:demogr:v:49:y:2012:i:4:p:1499-1519
    DOI: 10.1007/s13524-012-0124-x
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    2. Beatty, Timothy K.M. & Ritter, Joseph A., 2018. "Measuring the Health Cost of Prolonged Unemployment: Evidence from the Great Recession," Staff Papers 280435, University of Minnesota, Department of Applied Economics.
    3. Bach, Ruben & Eckman, Stephanie, 2017. "Does participating in a panel survey change respondents' labor market behavior?," IAB Discussion Paper 201715, Institut für Arbeitsmarkt- und Berufsforschung (IAB), Nürnberg [Institute for Employment Research, Nuremberg, Germany].
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    6. Beatty, Timothy K.M. & Ritter, Joseph A., 2018. "Measuring the Health Cost of Prolonged Unemployment: Evidence from the Great Recession," Miscellaneous Publications 280435, University of Minnesota, Department of Applied Economics.
    7. Adrian Chadi, 2016. "Identification of Attrition Bias Using Different Types of Panel Refreshments," IAAEU Discussion Papers 201602, Institute of Labour Law and Industrial Relations in the European Union (IAAEU).
    8. Jed Friedman & Kathleen Beegle & Joachim De Weerdt & John Gibson, 2016. "Decomposing response error in food consumption measurement: implications for survey design from a survey experiment in Tanzania," Working Papers of LICOS - Centre for Institutions and Economic Performance 537166, KU Leuven, Faculty of Economics and Business (FEB), LICOS - Centre for Institutions and Economic Performance.
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    10. Bach, Ruben L. & Eckman, Stephanie, 2020. "Rotation group bias in reporting of household purchases in the U.S. Consumer Expenditure Survey," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 187(C).

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