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

21 Pages Posted: 8 Jan 2011

See all articles by Matthias Schonlau

Matthias Schonlau

University of Waterloo

Nicole Watson

University of Melbourne - Melbourne Institute: Applied Economic & Social Research

Martin Kroh

German Institute for Economic Research (DIW Berlin) - German Socio Economic Panel

Date Written: December 22, 2010

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 make ad 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 decision of 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.

Keywords: Survey Panels, Survey Methodology

Suggested Citation

Schonlau, Matthias and Watson, Nicole and Kroh, Martin, Household Survey Panels: How Much Do Following Rules Affect Sample Size? (December 22, 2010). SOEPpaper No. 347, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1736591 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1736591

Matthias Schonlau (Contact Author)

University of Waterloo ( email )

Waterloo, Ontario
Canada

Nicole Watson

University of Melbourne - Melbourne Institute: Applied Economic & Social Research ( email )

Level 5, FBE Building, 111 Barry Street
Parkville, Victoria 3010
Australia
+61 3 8344 5744 (Phone)
+61 3 8344 5630 (Fax)

HOME PAGE: http://wff1.ecom.unimelb.edu.au/iaesrwww/people/nwatson/

Martin Kroh

German Institute for Economic Research (DIW Berlin) - German Socio Economic Panel ( email )

DIW Berlin
Berlin, Berlin 14191
Germany

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