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Errors in recalling childhood socio-economic status: the role of anchoring and household formation in South Africa

Author

Listed:
  • Dieter von Fintel

    (Department of Economics, University of Stellenbosch)

  • Dorrit Posel

    (School of Built Environment and Development Studies, University of KwaZulu-Natal)

Abstract

In the absence of longitudinal data that track individuals over an extended period of time, information on childhood socio-economic status can be provided by questions that ask adults to recall their parents’ education or their economic status at childhood. The usefulness of these data, however, requires that people are willing to report this information, and that these reports do not vary systematically over time, for example in response to changes in current circumstances. In this paper, we evaluate recall data for South Africa, collected from the same adults in the first two waves of a national panel survey. We show that the data, particularly on father’s education, are compromised by very low and selective response, reflecting the fragmented nature of many South African families. Among those who do provide information, parental education is reported more consistently over time than the subjective appraisals of childhood economic status. However, we find also that both sets of indicators are sensitive to changes in current income, which would be consistent with anchoring effects. Furthermore changes in subjective appraisals of the past are highly correlated with changes in subjective appraisals of the present.

Suggested Citation

  • Dieter von Fintel & Dorrit Posel, 2014. "Errors in recalling childhood socio-economic status: the role of anchoring and household formation in South Africa," Working Papers 18/2014, Stellenbosch University, Department of Economics, revised 2014.
  • Handle: RePEc:sza:wpaper:wpapers223
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    References listed on IDEAS

    as
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    More about this item

    Keywords

    retrospective data; socio-economic status; childhood reach; anchoring;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • J13 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Fertility; Family Planning; Child Care; Children; Youth
    • C83 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Data Collection and Data Estimation Methodology; Computer Programs - - - Survey Methods; Sampling Methods
    • D1 - Microeconomics - - Household Behavior

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