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An Analysis of Sample Attrition in Panel Data: The Michigan Panel Study of Income Dynamics

  • John Fitzgerald

    (Bowdoin College)

  • Peter Gottschalk


    (Boston College)

  • Robert Moffitt

    (Johns Hopkins University)

By 1989 the Michigan Panel Study on Income Dynamics (PSID) had experienced approximately 50 percent sample loss from cumulative attrition from its initial 1968 membership. We study the effect of this attrition on the unconditional distributions of several socioeconomic variables and on the estimates of several sets of regression coefficients. We provide a statistical framework for conducting tests for attrition bias that draws a sharp distinction between selection on unobservables and on observables and that shows that weighted least squares can generate consistent parameter estimates when selection is based on observables, even when they are endogenous. Our empirical analysis shows that attrition is highly selective and is concentrated among lower socioeconomic status individuals. We also show that attrition is concentrated among those with more unstable earnings, marriage, and migration histories. Nevertheless, we find that these variables explain very little of the attrition in the sample, and that the selection that occurs is moderated by regression-to-the-mean effects from selection on transitory components that fade over time. Consequently, despite the large amount of attrition, we find no strong evidence that attrition has seriously distorted the representativeness of the PSID through 1989, and considerable evidence that its cross sectional representativeness has remained roughly intact.

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Paper provided by Boston College Department of Economics in its series Boston College Working Papers in Economics with number 394.

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Length: 101 pages
Date of creation: 01 Dec 1997
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:boc:bocoec:394
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  1. Sean Becketti & William Gould & Lee Lillard & Finis Welch, 1985. "The Panel Study of Income Dynamics After Fourteen Years: An Evaluation," UCLA Economics Working Papers 361, UCLA Department of Economics.
  2. Bound, John, et al, 1994. "Evidence on the Validity of Cross-Sectional and Longitudinal Labor Market Data," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 12(3), pages 345-68, July.
  3. Ridder, Geert, 1992. "An empirical evaluation of some models for non-random attrition in panel data," Structural Change and Economic Dynamics, Elsevier, vol. 3(2), pages 337-355, December.
  4. Manski, C.F., 1990. "The Selection Problem," Working papers 90-12, Wisconsin Madison - Social Systems.
  5. James J. Heckman, 1989. "Choosing Among Alternative Nonexperimental Methods for Estimating the Impact of Social Programs: The Case of Manpower Training," NBER Working Papers 2861, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  6. Van den Berg, G J & Lindeboom, M & Ridder, G, 1994. "Attrition in Longitudinal Panel Data and the Empirical Analysis of Dynamic Labour Market Behaviour," Journal of Applied Econometrics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 9(4), pages 421-35, Oct.-Dec..
  7. Horowitz, J.L. & Manski, C.F., 1995. "Censoring of Outcomes and Regressors Due to Survey Nonresponse: Identification and estimation Using Weights and Imputations," Working Papers 95-12, University of Iowa, Department of Economics.
  8. Imbens, G. & Lancaster, T., 1991. "Efficient Estimation And Stratified Sampling," Harvard Institute of Economic Research Working Papers 1545, Harvard - Institute of Economic Research.
  9. Heckman, James J. & Robb, Richard Jr., 1985. "Alternative methods for evaluating the impact of interventions : An overview," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 30(1-2), pages 239-267.
  10. Duncan, Greg J & Hill, Daniel H, 1989. "Assessing the Quality of Household Panel Data: The Case of the Panel Study of Income Dynamics," Journal of Business & Economic Statistics, American Statistical Association, vol. 7(4), pages 441-52, October.
  11. John M. Abowd & David Card, 1986. "On the Covariance Structure of Earnings and Hours Changes," NBER Working Papers 1832, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  12. Keisuke Hirano & Guido W. Imbens & Geert Ridder & Donald B. Rubin, 1998. "Combining Panel Data Sets with Attrition and Refreshment Samples," Tinbergen Institute Discussion Papers 98-033/4, Tinbergen Institute.
  13. Judith K. Hellerstein & Guido W. Imbens, 1999. "Imposing Moment Restrictions From Auxiliary Data By Weighting," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 81(1), pages 1-14, February.
  14. 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.
  15. Imbens, G.W. & Lancaster, T., 1991. "Combining Micro and Macro Data in Microeconometric Models," Harvard Institute of Economic Research Working Papers 1578, Harvard - Institute of Economic Research.
  16. Nijman, T.E. & Verbeek, M.J.C.M., 1992. "Non-response in panel data : The impact on estimates of a life cycle consumption function," Other publications TiSEM 3c661e33-2cd1-47f1-a7d9-3, Tilburg University, School of Economics and Management.
  17. Nijman, Theo & Verbeek, Marno, 1992. "Nonresponse in Panel Data: The Impact on Estimates of a Life Cycle Consumption Function," Journal of Applied Econometrics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 7(3), pages 243-57, July-Sept.
  18. Hausman, Jerry A & Wise, David A, 1979. "Attrition Bias in Experimental and Panel Data: The Gary Income Maintenance Experiment," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 47(2), pages 455-73, March.
  19. MaCurdy, Thomas E., 1982. "The use of time series processes to model the error structure of earnings in a longitudinal data analysis," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 18(1), pages 83-114, January.
  20. Heckman, James J, 1979. "Sample Selection Bias as a Specification Error," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 47(1), pages 153-61, January.
  21. Colin Cameron, A. & Windmeijer, Frank A. G., 1997. "An R-squared measure of goodness of fit for some common nonlinear regression models," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 77(2), pages 329-342, April.
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