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The dangers of conditioning on the time of occurrence of one demographic process in the analysis of another

Author

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  • Jan M. Hoem

    (Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research, Rostock, Germany)

Abstract

Demographers and others often study the interaction between two types of individual-level behaviour, such as migration and childbearing. Unfortunately, one can get estimation bias if one compares childbearing before and after migration from data confined to migrants, say, as is sometimes done to see whether international migration disrupts fertility. Similar issues can arise in comparisons of union formation before and after first birth, marriage formation before and after home purchase, as well as in other comparisons of behaviour before and after an index event if one confines the study only to those who have experienced the index event. We point out that if one does this, then the study of behaviour before the index event actually conditions on the later arrival of the index event. This amounts to anticipatory analysis, which normally produces an estimation bias. In this paper we discuss this issue, provide a mathematical and graphical representation of it, and show how one can avoid estimation bias and get a meaningful (unconditional) comparison of behaviour before and after the index event provided the data contain enough information for both sub-periods.

Suggested Citation

  • Jan M. Hoem, 2013. "The dangers of conditioning on the time of occurrence of one demographic process in the analysis of another," MPIDR Working Papers WP-2013-006, Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research, Rostock, Germany.
  • Handle: RePEc:dem:wpaper:wp-2013-006
    as

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    File URL: http://www.demogr.mpg.de/papers/working/wp-2013-006.pdf
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    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Courgeau, Daniel & Lelievre, Eva, 1993. "Event History Analysis in Demography," OUP Catalogue, Oxford University Press, number 9780198287384.
    2. Hill Kulu & Andres Vikat, 2007. "Fertility differences by housing type: an effect of housing conditions or of selective moves?," MPIDR Working Papers WP-2007-014, Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research, Rostock, Germany.
    3. Jan M. Hoem & Lesia Nedoluzhko, 2008. "Marriage formation as a process intermediary between migration and childbearing," MPIDR Working Papers WP-2008-015, Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research, Rostock, Germany.
    4. Jan M. Hoem & Lesia Nedoluzhko, 2008. "Marriage formation as a process intermediary between migration and childbearing," Demographic Research, Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research, Rostock, Germany, vol. 18(21), pages 611-628, June.
    5. repec:cai:poeine:pope_703_0351 is not listed on IDEAS
    6. Laura E. Hill & Hans P. Johnson, 2004. "Fertility Changes Among Immigrants: Generations, Neighborhoods, and Personal Characteristics," Social Science Quarterly, Southwestern Social Science Association, vol. 85(3), pages 811-827.
    7. Gunnar Andersson & Boris Sobolev, 2001. "Small effects of selective migration and selective survival in retrospective studies of fertility," MPIDR Working Papers WP-2001-031, Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research, Rostock, Germany.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    More about this item

    Keywords

    childbearing; event history analysis; marriage; migration;

    JEL classification:

    • J1 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics
    • Z0 - Other Special Topics - - General

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