IDEAS home Printed from https://ideas.repec.org/p/nbr/nberwo/1109.html
   My bibliography  Save this paper

Survey Response Variation in the Current Population Survey

Author

Listed:
  • James M. Poterba
  • Lawrence H. Summers

Abstract

This paper investigates the problem of responseand coding errors in the Current Population Survey. It draws upon a potentially rich source o finformation for verifying survey answers, a three month matched sample of CPS respondents, to analyze whether individuals' questionnaire responses inadjacent months are mutually consistent.We focus primarily on reported durations of unemployment spells.For individuals who were coded as unemployed in two consecutive months and who experienced no intervening labor market withdrawal or employment,their reported duration in the second interview should exceed the first interview duration by about four weeks. However, this is not what survey responses show. In more than three quarters of all cases, reported durations in successive months are logically inconsistent. The reporting problemis not confined to spell durations. In 25 percent of all cases,the professed reason for unemployment changes as the unemployment spell progresses.Furthermore, analysis of labor force entrants shows that reported changes in labor force status between unemployment and not-in-the labor force are not reliable guides to actual behavior.We conclude that reported durations of unemployment, and to a lesser extent, reasons for unemployment, may be very misleading indicators of future behavior. Econometric analyses which focus on changes in individual behavior over time are likely to be badly flawed by spurious changes due to reporting errors. These problems with the Current Population Survey, one of the best sample surveys available, may suggest far greater difficulties in interpreting other sources of panel data.

Suggested Citation

  • James M. Poterba & Lawrence H. Summers, 1983. "Survey Response Variation in the Current Population Survey," NBER Working Papers 1109, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:1109
    Note: LS
    as

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL: http://www.nber.org/papers/w1109.pdf
    Download Restriction: no

    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Flinn, Christopher J & Heckman, James J, 1983. "Are Unemployment and Out of the Labor Force Behaviorally Distinct Labor Force States?," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 1(1), pages 28-42, January.
    2. Kim B. Clark & Lawrence H. Summers, 1979. "Labor Market Dynamics and Unemployemnt: A Reconsideration," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 10(1), pages 13-72.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    Citations

    Citations are extracted by the CitEc Project, subscribe to its RSS feed for this item.
    as


    Cited by:

    1. John Ballen & Richard B. Freeman, 1986. "Transitions between Employment and Nonemployment," NBER Chapters,in: The Black Youth Employment Crisis, pages 75-114 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    2. James M. Poterba & Lawrence H. Summers, 1984. "Adjusting the Gross Changes Data: Implications for Labor Market Dynamics," NBER Working Papers 1436, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    3. Addison, John T. & Portugal, Pedro, 2004. "How does the unemployment insurance system shape the time profile of jobless duration?," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 85(2), pages 229-234, November.

    More about this item

    Statistics

    Access and download statistics

    Corrections

    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:1109. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (). General contact details of provider: http://edirc.repec.org/data/nberrus.html .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    If CitEc recognized a reference but did not link an item in RePEc to it, you can help with this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.