an expense and income survey of farming establishments conducted by the National Agricultural Statistics Service. It is an annual survey that collects detailed information related to the farming enterprise and, to a lesser extent, to the farm household. This survey has multiple modules or versions, with sample units assigned to a specific version during the selection process. Most versions are designed for personal enumeration, but one is designed for mail/Web collection. For a given expense item (such as fuel expenses), some versions will ask only the global expense item (total spent on fuel of all kinds) and others will ask a detailed breakout of that expense item (amount spent on gasoline, diesel, propane, etc.). Regardless of the version and mix of global/detail questions, all data are combined in summary estimates and contribute to the state, regional, and national estimates.

Fields (2011a) discussed the current structure of the Survey of Income and Program Participation (SIPP) and its use of both “core” and “topical” questionnaire items. The SIPP follows households for multiple waves. Core questions are asked in all waves, such as the global item “total income.” Topical questions are those that are not repeated in each wave. Topical modules are designed to gather specific information on a wide variety of subjects. Some topical modules cover items such as assets and liabilities, real estate property, and selected financial assets. In some instances, the topical questions are intermixed with core questions in the interview to make the questionnaire flow more smoothly.

Gentleman (2011) discussed two alternatives for asking questions about the entire family in the National Health Interview Study. The first alternative asks a global question “does anyone in the family. . . .” An alternative questionnaire goes through the family roster and asks individual questions for each family member. The NHIS is also used as a screening vehicle for follow-on surveys, with many detailed questions saved for those follow-on surveys. One result from their experiments on screening questions showed that respondents gave fewer “yes” answers to filters as they learned that such answers led to additional questions.

Session 5: Designs That Use “Event History” Methodology to Improve Recall and Reduce Measurement Error in Recall Surveys

This session highlighted surveys that utilize “event history” methodology to improve the quality of recalled information. The Panel Study of Income Dynamics (PSID) was the first major survey to implement “event history” methodology to improve the ability of respondents to recall information. Stafford (Beaule and Stafford, 2011) discussed the implementation of this methodology in the PSID, which has been a prototype for other surveys. They conducted a number of methodological studies as they developed this methodology.



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