Adjusting for Response Error in Panel Surveys: A Latent Class Approach

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Estimation of the current distribution of labor force characteristics, as well as individual-level changes in these characteristics, is threatened in the Current Population Survey (CPS) by “rotation group bias.” Similar problems are likely to arise in other surveys that use a rotating panel format (e.g., the Survey of Income and Program Participation—SIPP) or are forced to administer questionnaires in different formats from wave to wave for some fraction of the sample. This article presents an analysis of response error (misclassification error) in the CPS that reconciles observed differences among rotation groups, and we propose that the same general approach can be used to model response bias in other panel surveys such as SIPP. It is hypothesized that the greater prevalence of unemployment observed in the initial CPS interview arises from errors in classifying individuals into labor force statuses. Multiple-group latent class models are developed for the November 1979 CPS file that estimate (1) the “true” prevalence of each labor force status, (2) the prevalence of misclassification, (3) the relationship between true labor force status and the type of interview conducted (i.e., telephone versus face-to-face interview, self versus proxy responses), and (4) the difference between the error structures observed in the first rotation group and those found in other groups. Results suggest that the true prevalence of labor force statuses is constant over rotation groups once response errors have been accounted for.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)65-92
Number of pages28
JournalSociological Methods & Research
Issue number1
StatePublished - Aug 1988

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • Sociology and Political Science


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