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An evaluation of the childhood family structure measures from the sixth wave of the British Household Panel Survey

  • Francesconi, Marco

This paper performs an evaluation of the data collected in the sixth wave of the BHPS on childhood family structure. After comparing such data with a large number of studies using external sources, we find that the BHPS overestimates the proportion of people who report an experience of life in a non-intact family during childhood by about 12%. Although an explanation based on recall error that deteriorates with the age of the BHPS informants is possible, this overestimation is likely to be accounted for by non-ignorable attrition that may affect most of the comparison studies using longitudinal data. Conversely, comparisons with other independent measurements from the BHPS itself reveal that the wave-6 data underestimate the proportion of young people having experienced part of their childhood in a non-intact family by about 8%. The probability of disagreement between these two statistics is strongly associated with poor interview characteristics, which may affect the comparison measure more than the wave-6 measure. In general, however, despite such differences, there is a substantial degree of similarity between the family structure information collected in the sixth wave of the BHPS and the host of highly diverse records against which it has been compared.

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Paper provided by Institute for Social and Economic Research in its series ISER Working Paper Series with number 2002-25.

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Date of creation: 01 Nov 2002
Date of revision:
Publication status: published
Handle: RePEc:ese:iserwp:2002-25
Contact details of provider: Postal: Publications Office, Institute for Social and Economic Research, University of Essex, Wivenhoe Park, Colchester, Essex CO4 3SQ UK
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  1. Andrew Cherlin & Kathleen Kiernan & P. Chase-Lansdale, 1995. "Parental divorce in childhood and demographic outcomes in young adulthood," Demography, Springer, vol. 32(3), pages 299-318, August.
  2. Lorraine Dearden, 1998. "Ability, families, education and earnings in Britain," IFS Working Papers W98/14, Institute for Fiscal Studies.
  3. H. Elizabeth Peters, . "Retrospective Versus Panel Data in Analyzing Life-Cycle Events," University of Chicago - Population Research Center 87-5, Chicago - Population Research Center.
  4. repec:ese:iserwp:2002-12 is not listed on IDEAS
  5. John F. Ermisch & Marco Francesconi, 2001. "Family structure and children's achievements," Journal of Population Economics, Springer, vol. 14(2), pages 249-270.
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