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Survey non-response and the duration of unemployment

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Social surveys are often used to estimate unemployment duration distributions. Survey non-response may then cause a bias. We study this by using a data set that combines survey information of individual workers with administrative records of the same workers. The latter provide information on durations of unemployment and personal characteristics of all survey respondents and non-respondents. We develop a method to distinguish empirically between two explanations for a bias in results based on only survey data: selectivity due to related unobserved determinants of durations of unemployment and non-response and a causal effect of a job exit on non-response. The latter may occur even in fully homogeneous populations. The methodology exploits variation in the timing of the duration outcome relative to the survey moment. The results show evidence for both explanations. We discuss implications for standard methods to deal with non-response bias.

Keywords: Event history; Hazard rate; Non-response bias; Sample selection; Unemployment measurement

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: 1: Free University Amsterdam, the Netherlands, Institutet för Arbetsmarknadspolitisk Utvärdering, Uppsala, Sweden, Centre for Economic Policy Research, London, UK, and Institut zur Zukunft der Arbeit, Bonn, Germany 2: Free University, Amsterdam, Tinbergen Institute, Amsterdam, the Netherlands, Helseøkonomi Bergen, Norway, and Institut zur Zukunft der Arbeit, Bonn, Germany 3: Royal Holloway College, London, and London School of Economics and Political Science, UK

Publication date: 2006-07-01

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