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Household Survey Panels: How Much Do Following Rules Affect Sample Size?

Author

Listed:
  • Matthias Schonlau
  • Nicole Watson
  • Martin Kroh

Abstract

In household panels, typically all household members are surveyed. Because household composition changes over time, so-called following rules are implemented to decide whether to continue surveying household members who leave the household (e.g. former spouses/partners, grown children) in subsequent waves. Following rules have been largely ignored in the literature leaving panel designers unaware of the breadth of their options and forcing them to makead hoc decisions. In particular, to what extent various following rules affect sample size over time is unknown. From an operational point of view such knowledge is important because sample size greatly affects costs. Moreover, the decisionof whom to follow has irreversible consequences as finding household members who moved out years earlier is very difficult. We find that household survey panels implement a wide variety of following rules but their effect on sample size is relatively limited. Even after 25 years, the rule "follow only wave 1 respondents" still captures 85% of the respondents of the rule "follow everyone who can be traced back to a wave 1 household through living arrangements". Almost all of the remaining 15% live in households of children of wave 1 respondents who have grown up (5%) and in households of former spouses/partners (10%). Unless attrition is low, there is no danger of an ever expanding panel because even wide following rules do not typically exceed attrition.

Suggested Citation

  • Matthias Schonlau & Nicole Watson & Martin Kroh, 2010. "Household Survey Panels: How Much Do Following Rules Affect Sample Size?," SOEPpapers on Multidisciplinary Panel Data Research 347, DIW Berlin, The German Socio-Economic Panel (SOEP).
  • Handle: RePEc:diw:diwsop:diw_sp347
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    Cited by:

    1. Martin Kroh, 2011. "Documentation of Sample Sizes and Panel Attrition in the German Socio Economic Panel (SOEP) (1984 until 2010)," Data Documentation 59, DIW Berlin, German Institute for Economic Research.
    2. Bettina Lamla, 2012. "Family Background, Informal Networks and the Decision to Provide for Old Age: A Siblings Approach," SOEPpapers on Multidisciplinary Panel Data Research 466, DIW Berlin, The German Socio-Economic Panel (SOEP).
    3. Martin Kroh, 2013. "Documentation of Sample Sizes and Panel Attrition in the German Socio Economic Panel (SOEP) (1984 until 2012)," Data Documentation 71, DIW Berlin, German Institute for Economic Research.
    4. repec:mea:meawpa:12261 is not listed on IDEAS
    5. Bettina Lamla, 2013. "Family background and the decision to provide for old age: a siblings approach," Empirica, Springer;Austrian Institute for Economic Research;Austrian Economic Association, vol. 40(3), pages 483-504, August.
    6. Martin Kroh, 2012. "Documentation of Sample Sizes and Panel Attrition in the German Socio Economic Panel (SOEP) (1984 until 2011)," Data Documentation 66, DIW Berlin, German Institute for Economic Research.
    7. Coulson, N. Edward & Grieco, Paul L.E., 2013. "Mobility and mortgages: Evidence from the PSID," Regional Science and Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 43(1), pages 1-7.
    8. Martin Kroh & Rainer Siegers, 2014. "Documentation of Sample Sizes and Panel Attrition in the German Socio Economic Panel (SOEP) (1984 until 2013)," Data Documentation 75, DIW Berlin, German Institute for Economic Research.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Survey panels; Survey methodology;

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