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Cutting the costs of attrition: Results from the Indonesia Family Life Survey

  • John Strauss
  • Duncan Thomas
  • Firman Witoelar
  • Elizabeth Frankenberg
  • Bondan Sikoki
  • Cecep Sumantri
  • Wayan Suriastini

Attrition is the Achilles heel of longitudinal surveys. Drawing on our experience in the Indonesia Family Life Survey, we describe survey design and field strategies that contributed to minimizing attrition over four waves of the survey. The data are used to illustrate the selectivity of respondents who attrit from the survey and, also the selectivity of respondents who move from the place they were interviewed at baseline and are subsequently interviewed in a new location. These results provide insights into the nature of selection that will arise in studies that fail to track and interview movers. Attrition, and types of attrition, are related in complex ways to a broad array of characteristics measured at baseline. Our evidence also suggests attrition may be related to characteristics that are not observed in our baseline. We draw on data from a Survey of Surveyors and describe characteristics of both the interviewers and the interview that predict attrition in later waves. These characteristics point to possible strategies that may reduce levels of attrition and may also reduce the impact of attrition on the interpretation of models estimated with longitudinal data. [Working Paper No. 259]

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Paper provided by eSocialSciences in its series Working Papers with number id:2652.

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Date of creation: Jul 2010
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Handle: RePEc:ess:wpaper:id:2652
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  1. Duncan Thomas & Elizabeth Frankenberg & James P. Smith, 2001. "Lost but Not Forgotten: Attrition and Follow-up in the Indonesia Family Life Survey," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 36(3), pages 556-592.
  2. John Fitzgerald & Peter Gottschalk & Robert Moffitt, 1998. "An Analysis of Sample Attrition in Panel Data: The Michigan Panel Study of Income Dynamics," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 33(2), pages 251-299.
  3. Daniel H. Hill & Robert J. Willis, 2001. "Reducing Panel Attrition: A Search for Effective Policy Instruments," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 36(3), pages 416-438.
  4. Thomas MaCurdy & Thomas Mroz & R. Mark Gritz, 1998. "An Evaluation of the National Longitudinal Survey on Youth," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 33(2), pages 345-436.
  5. Rosenzweig, Mark R., 1988. "Labor markets in low-income countries," Handbook of Development Economics, in: Hollis Chenery & T.N. Srinivasan (ed.), Handbook of Development Economics, edition 1, volume 1, chapter 15, pages 713-762 Elsevier.
  6. Falaris, Evangelos M., 2003. "The effect of survey attrition in longitudinal surveys: evidence from Peru, Cote d'Ivoire and Vietnam," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 70(1), pages 133-157, February.
  7. Jeffrey E. Zabel, 1998. "An Analysis of Attrition in the Panel Study of Income Dynamics and the Survey of Income and Program Participation with an Application to a Model of Labor Market Behavior," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 33(2), pages 479-506.
  8. 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.
  9. John A. Maluccio, 2004. "Using Quality of Interview Information to Assess Nonrandom Attrition Bias in Developing-Country Panel Data," Review of Development Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 8(1), pages 91-109, 02.
  10. Mark R. Rosenzweig, 2003. "Payoffs from Panels in Low-Income Countries: Economic Development and Economic Mobility," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 93(2), pages 112-117, May.
  11. Denise Hawkes & Ian Plewis, 2006. "Modelling non-response in the National Child Development Study," Journal of the Royal Statistical Society Series A, Royal Statistical Society, vol. 169(3), pages 479-491.
  12. Evangelos M. Falaris & H. Elizabeth Peters, 1992. "Schooling Choices and Demographic Cycles," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 27(4), pages 551-574.
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