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Surveying Victims: Options for Conducting the National Crime Victimization Survey Panel to Review the Programs of the Bureau of Justice Statistics Robert M. Groves and Daniel L. Cork, Editors Committee on National Statistics Committee on Law and Justice Division of Behavioral and Social Sciences and Education THE NATIONAL ACADEMIES PRESS Washington, DC www.nap.edu
THE NATIONAL ACADEMIES PRESS 500 Fifth Street, NW Washington, DC 20001 NOTICE: The project that is the subject of this report was approved by the Governing Board of the National Research Council, whose members are drawn from the councils of the National Academy of Sciences, the National Academy of Engineering, and the Institute of Medicine. The members of the committee responsible for the report were chosen for their special competences and with regard for appropriate balance. The project that is the subject of this report was supported by contract no. SES-0453930 between the National Academy of Sciences and the U.S. Department of Justice. Support of the work of the Committee on National Statistics is provided by a consortium of federal agencies through a grant from the National Science Foundation (Number SBR-0112521). Any opinions, ï¬ndings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reï¬ect the views of the organizations or agencies that provided support for the project. International Standard Book Number-13: 978-0-309-11598-8 International Standard Book Number-10: 0-309-11598-1 Additional copies of this report are available from the National Academies Press, 500 Fifth Street, NW Washington, DC 20001; (202) 334-3096; Internet, http://www.nap.edu. , Copyright 2008 by the National Academy of Sciences. All rights reserved. Printed in the United States of America Suggested citation: National Research Council (2008). Surveying Victims: Options for Con- ducting the National Crime Victimization Survey. Panel to Review the Programs of the Bureau of Justice Statistics. Robert M. Groves and Daniel L. Cork, eds. Committee on National Statistics and Committee on Law and Justice, Division of Behavioral and Social Sciences and Education. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press.
The National Academy of Sciences is a private, nonproï¬t, self-perpetuating society of distinguished scholars engaged in scientiï¬c and engineering research, dedicated to the furtherance of science and technology and to their use for the general welfare. Upon the authority of the charter granted to it by the Congress in 1863, the Academy has a mandate that requires it to advise the federal government on scientiï¬c and technical matters. Dr. Ralph J. Cicerone is president of the National Academy of Sciences. The National Academy of Engineering was established in 1964, under the charter of the National Academy of Sciences, as a parallel organization of outstanding engineers. It is autonomous in its administration and in the selection of its members, sharing with the National Academy of Sciences the responsibility for advising the federal government. The National Academy of Engineering also sponsors engineering programs aimed at meeting national needs, encourages education and research, and recognizes the superior achievements of engineers. Dr. Charles M. Vest is president of the National Academy of Engineering. The Institute of Medicine was established in 1970 by the National Academy of Sciences to secure the services of eminent members of appropriate professions in the examination of policy matters pertaining to the health of the public. The Institute acts under the responsibility given to the National Academy of Sciences by its congressional charter to be an adviser to the federal government and, upon its own initiative, to identify issues of medical care, research, and education. Dr. Harvey V. Fineberg is president of the Institute of Medicine. The National Research Council was organized by the National Academy of Sci- ences in 1916 to associate the broad community of science and technology with the Academyâs purposes of furthering knowledge and advising the federal government. Functioning in accordance with general policies determined by the Academy, the Council has become the principal operating agency of both the National Academy of Sciences and the National Academy of Engineering in providing services to the gov- ernment, the public, and the scientiï¬c and engineering communities. The Council is administered jointly by both Academies and the Institute of Medicine. Dr. Ralph J. Cicerone and Dr. Charles M. Vest are chair and vice chair, respectively, of the National Research Council. www.national-academies.org
PANEL TO REVIEW THE PROGRAMS OF THE BUREAU OF JUSTICE STATISTICS ROBERT M. GROVES (Chair), Survey Research Center, University of Michigan, and Joint Program in Survey Methodology, University of Maryland WILLIAM G. BARRON, JR., Consultant, Princeton University WILLIAM CLEMENTS, School of Graduate Studies and Department of Criminal Justice, Norwich University, and Vermont Center for Justice Research PAMELA K. LATTIMORE,â RTI International, Research Triangle Park, North Carolina JANET L. LAURITSEN, Department of Criminology and Criminal Justice, University of MissouriâSt. Louis COLIN LOFTIN, School of Criminal Justice, University at Albany, State University of New York JAMES P LYNCH, John Jay College of Criminal Justice . RUTH D. PETERSON, Department of Sociology, Ohio State University TRIVELLORE E. RAGHUNATHAN, Department of Biostatistics, School of Public Health, and Survey Research Center, University of Michigan, and Joint Program in Survey Methodology, University of Maryland STEVEN R. SCHLESINGER, Statistics Division, Administrative Ofï¬ce of the United States Courts WESLEY G. SKOGAN, Department of Political Science and Institute for Policy Research, Northwestern University BRUCE D. SPENCER, Department of Statistics and Institute for Policy Research, Northwestern University BRUCE WESTERN, Department of Sociology, Harvard University DANIEL L. CORK, Study Director CAROL V PETRIE, Senior Program Ofï¬cer . AGNES E. GASKIN, Senior Program Assistant â Resigned from the panel April 2, 2007. v
COMMITTEE ON NATIONAL STATISTICS 2008 WILLIAM F. EDDY (Chair), Department of Statistics, Carnegie Mellon University KATHARINE G. ABRAHAM, Department of Economics and Joint Program in Survey Methodology, University of Maryland WILLIAM DUMOUCHEL, Lincoln Technologies, Inc., Waltham, Massachusetts JOHN C. HALTIWANGER, Department of Economics, University of Maryland V JOSEPH HOTZ, Department of Economics, Duke University . KAREN KAFADAR, Department of Mathematical Sciences, University of Colorado at Denver and Health Sciences Center, and Department of Statistics, Indiana University, Bloomington DOUGLAS S. MASSEY, Department of Sociology, Princeton University SALLY MORTON, Statistics and Epidemiology, RTI International, Research Triangle Park, North Carolina VIJAY NAIR, Department of Statistics and Department of Industrial and Operations Engineering, University of Michigan JOSEPH NEWHOUSE, Division of Health Policy Research and Education, Harvard University SAMUEL H. PRESTON, Population Studies Center, University of Pennsylvania KENNETH PREWITT, School of International and Public Affairs, Columbia University LOUISE RYAN, Department of Biostatistics, Harvard University ROGER TOURANGEAU, Joint Program in Survey Methodology, University of Maryland, and Survey Research Center, University of Michigan ALAN ZASLAVSKY, Department of Health Care Policy, Harvard Medical School CONSTANCE F. CITRO, Director vi
COMMITTEE ON LAW AND JUSTICE 2008 JAMES Q. WILSON (Chair), Emeritus, University of California, Los Angeles PHILIP J. COOK (Vice Chair), Terry Sanford Institute of Public Policy, Duke University DAVID H. BAYLEY, School of Criminal Justice, University of Albany, State University of New York RICHARD J. BONNIE, Institute of Law, Psychiatry, and Public Policy, University of Virginia Law School MARTHA CRENSHAW, Department of Political Science, Wesleyan University ROBERT D. CRUTCHFIELD, Department of Sociology, University of Washington JOHN J. DIIULIO, JR., Institute of Government, University of Pennsylvania STEVEN N. DURLAUF, Department of Economics, University of WisconsinâMadison JOHN A. FEREJOHN, Hoover Institution, Stanford University ARTHUR S. GOLDBERGER, Department of Economics, University of WisconsinâMadison BRUCE HOFFMAN, Washington Ofï¬ce, RAND Corporation ROBERT L. JOHNSON, Pediatric and Clinical Psychiatry, and Director of Adolescent and Young Adult Medicine, New Jersey Medical School JOHN H. LAUB, Department of Criminology and Criminal Justice, University of Maryland TRACEY L. MEARES, School of Law, University of Chicago TERRIE E. MOFFITT, Institute of Psychiatry, University of London MARK H. MOORE, Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University RUTH PETERSON, Department of Sociology, Ohio State University RICHARD ROSENFELD, Department of Criminology and Criminal Justice, University of MissouriâSt. Louis ROBERT J. SAMPSON, Department of Sociology, Harvard University JEREMY TRAVIS, John Jay College of Criminal Justice CHRISTY VISHER, Justice Policy Center, Urban Institute CAROL PETRIE, Director vii
Acknowledgments T HE PANEL to Review the Programs of the Bureau of Justice Statistics of the Committee on National Statistics (CNSTAT) is pleased to sub- mit this interim report on options for conducting the National Crime Victimization Survey (NCVS). The work that leads to such a report always represents a collectivityâa devoted and talented staff of the National Re- search Council (NRC) and a set of volunteers, both panel members and those who met with the panel. Finally, the agency seeking advice from CNSTAT is key to the success of the endeavor. The staff of the Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) has been exception- ally receptive to our external review of the agencyâs programs. Directed by Jeffrey Sedgwick, BJS has been generous in providing information and ma- terials for the panelâs consideration. Deputy director Maureen Henneberg has provided considerable assistance as the lead liaison between BJS and the panel, and fellow deputy director Allen Beck gave greatly of his time and expertise in interacting with the panel. Patrick Campbell, special assistant to the director, also participated in the public sessions of the panelâs meetings. Michael Rand, chief of victimization statistics, deserves particular credit for leading a thorough and extremely useful review of the NCVS at the panelâs ï¬rst meeting. More than just cooperation is notable; in its meetings with the BJS staff, the panel observed clear devotion among the BJS staff to the qual- ity and efï¬ciency of the agencyâs statistical activities and a common purpose of serving the country well through its activities. We greatly appreciate the work of the Justice Research and Statistics As- sociation; its invitation to panel staff to attend the associationâs annual meet- ing in Denver in October 2006 was helpful in structuring the panelâs work. Joan Weiss, executive director of the association, provided helpful comments and suggestions as the panel began its work. In addition to the BJS staff, we gratefully acknowledge the other expert ix
x ACKNOWLEDGMENTS speakers who contributed to our plenary meetings: Kim English, research di- rector, Division of Criminal Justice, Colorado Department of Public Safety; Mark Epley, senior counsel to the deputy attorney general, U.S. Depart- ment of Justice; Pat Flanagan, assistant division chief, Demographic Statis- tical Methods Division, U.S. Census Bureau; David Hagy, deputy assistant attorney general for policy coordination, Ofï¬ce of Justice Programs, U.S. Department of Justice; Douglas Hoffman, director, Center for Research, Evaluation, and Statistical Analysis, Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency; Howard Hogan, associate director for demographic programs, U.S. Census Bureau; Krista Jansson, Home Ofï¬ce, United Kingdom; Ruth Ann Killion, chief, Demographic Statistical Methods Division, U.S. Census Bureau; Cheryl Landman, chief, Demographic Surveys Division, U.S. Census Bureau; Marilyn Monahan, chief of NCVS Branch, Demographic Surveys Division, U.S. Census Bureau; Jon Simmons, head of research analysis and statistics, Crime Reduction and Community Safety Group, Home Ofï¬ce, United Kingdom; and Philip Stevenson, statistical analysis center director, Arizona Criminal Justice Commission. We extend our appreciation to directors of state statistical analysis cen- ters for their participation in an informal survey about the use of victim- ization data in the states. This survey was led by panel member William Clements, who went far beyond the norm in his volunteering for such labor. The study director of the panel was Daniel Cork, whose ability to absorb reams of technical, administrative, and organizational information about BJS and the Department of Justice earned the admiration of all panel members. His wisdom in assembling and integrating the writing of panel members and in structuring and writing the report was notable. The panelâs work is conducted in cooperation with the NRCâs Committee on Law and Justice (CLAJ). As senior program ofï¬cer to this panel, CLAJ director Carol Petrie helped the panel integrate its work with prior studies and activities of the NRC concerning the Department of Justice. Agnes Gaskin, the senior pro- gram assistant, made sure meetings were organized and conducted in the professional manner that CNSTAT always achieves. The Survey Research Center of the Institute for Social Research at the University of Michigan hosted a deliberative session of the panel at Ann Arbor in June 2007. Deborah Seraï¬n, Rose Myers, and Kelly Smid handled the arrangements for the panel with grace and efï¬ciency. This report has been reviewed in draft form by individuals chosen for their diverse perspectives and technical expertise, in accordance with proce- dures approved by the Report Review Committee of the National Research Council (NRC). The purpose of this independent review is to provide candid and critical comments that will assist the institution in making the published report as sound as possible and to ensure that the report meets institutional standards for objectivity, evidence, and responsiveness to the study charge.
ACKNOWLEDGMENTS xi The review comments and draft manuscript remain conï¬dential to protect the integrity of the deliberative process. We thank the following individuals for their participation in the review of this report: Betsy Martin, retired, U.S. Bureau of the Census; Pat Mayhew, Crime and Justice Research Centre, Victoria University of Wellington, New Zealand; David McDowall, School of Criminal Justice, University at Albany, State University of New York; Henry N. Pontell, Department of Criminol- ogy, Law and Society and School of Social Ecology, University of California, Irvine; Callie Marie Rennison, Department of Criminology and Criminal Justice, University of MissouriâSt. Louis; James F. Short, Sociology Depart- ment, Washington State University; and Alan M. Zaslavsky, Department of Health Care Policy, Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts. Although the reviewers listed above provided many constructive com- ments and suggestions, they were not asked to endorse the conclusions or recommendations nor did they see the ï¬nal draft of the report before its release. The review of the report was overseen by Philip J. Cook, Terry Sanford Institute of Public Policy, Duke University. Appointed by the NRC, he was responsible for making certain that an independent examination of the report was carried out in accordance with institutional procedures and that all review comments were carefully considered. Responsibility for the ï¬nal content of this report rests entirely with the authoring panel and the institution. Robert M. Groves, Chair Panel to Review the Programs of the Bureau of Justice Statistics
Contents Executive Summary 1 1 Introduction 15 1âA Charge to the Panel 22 1âB Report Contents 24 2 Goals of the National Crime Victimization Survey 25 2âA Historical Goal Statements of the NCVS 26 2âB Data on Crimes and Victims 32 2âC National Benchmark: NCVS and the Uniform Crime Reports 33 2âD Analytic Flexibility 35 2âE Topical Flexibility: NCVS Supplements 36 2âF Legal Mandates 37 3 Current Demands and Constraints on the National Crime Victimization Survey 41 3âA Challenges to Surveys of the American Public 42 3âA.1 The Decline in Response Rates 42 3âA.2 The Rise in Survey Costs 46 3âA.3 The Linkage Between Response Rates and Nonresponse Error 46 3âB Challenges of Self-Response in Measuring Victimization 47 3âB.1 Cognitive Challenges: Telescoping and Forgetting 47 3âB.2 Measuring Hard-to-Measure Crimes 49 3âC Flexibility in Content and Methodology 52 3âC.1 Is the NCVS Flexible Regarding Changes in Victimization? 52 xiii
xiv CONTENTS 3âD Constituencies and Uses: State Statistical Analysis Centers 55 3âD.1 SAC Network 56 3âD.2 State Role for National-Level Data 57 3âD.3 Need for Finer Level Estimates 58 3âE Valuing Victimization Information: Comparing the Cost of Victimization Measurement with Benchmarks 63 3âE.1 The Cost of Crime 64 3âE.2 Comparison with Other Federal Surveys 67 3âE.3 International Expenditures 68 3âF Issues Related to the Coexistence of the NCVS and the UCR 70 3âF.1 Do Police Record Reports Reï¬ect Victimization Trends? 70 3âF.2 Independence of the NCVS and the UCR 75 3âG Assessment 77 4 Matching Design Features to Desired Goals 81 4âA Short-Term Fixes: Cost Reduction Strategies and Their Implications 82 4âB Alternatives to the Current Design in the Long Term 86 4âB.1 Characteristics of Possible Design Packages 87 4âB.2 Survey Design Packages for Comparison 92 4âC Assessments of Design Features and Packages 101 4âC.1 Length of Reference Period 107 4âC.2 Role of Supplements 110 4âC.3 Supporting Subnational Estimates 111 4âC.4 Efï¬ciency in Sample Design 114 4âC.5 Other Improvements 115 5 Decision-Making Process for a New Victimization Measurement System 117 5âA Bolstering Quality and Building Constituencies 117 5âB Data Collection Agent for the NCVS 122 References 127 Appendixes 143 A Findings and Recommendations 145 B Principal Findings and Recommendations of the National Research Council (1976b) Study 149 Bâ1 Findings 149 Bâ2 Recommendations 150
CONTENTS xv C Procedures and Operations of the National Crime Victimization Survey 153 Câ1 Sample Design and Size 153 Câ1.a Sample Construction 153 Câ1.b Person-Level Eligibility for Inclusion in the NCVS 155 Câ1.c Sample Size Over Time 155 Câ2 Rotating Panel Design 157 Câ2.a Reference Period 157 Câ2.b Mode of Survey Contact Over Repeated Interviews 159 Câ2.c Bounding 160 Câ3 Structure of the NCVS Instrument and Interview 161 Câ3.a Household and Individual Respondents 162 Câ3.b Control Card 162 Câ3.c Screening Questions (NCVS-1) 163 Câ3.d Incident Report (NCVS-2) 166 Câ3.e Attrition in the NCVS 167 Câ4 Supplements to the NCVS 167 D The Uniform Crime Reporting Program 171 Dâ1 Summary Reporting System 171 Dâ1.a Index Crimes 171 Dâ1.b Hierarchy Rule 173 Dâ1.c Supplemental Reports 175 Dâ2 National Incident-Based Reporting System 176 E Other Victimization Surveys: International and U.S. State and Local Experience 177 Eâ1 British Crime Survey 179 Eâ1.a Sample Design 180 Eâ1.b Supplements in the BCS 180 Eâ1.c Reviews of British Crime Statistics 181 Eâ2 International Crime Victimization Survey 185 Eâ3 Victimization Surveys as Part of a Broader Social Survey: Canada and Australia 186 Eâ4 State and Local Victimization Surveys 188 Eâ4.a Alaska 188 Eâ4.b Illinois 188 Eâ4.c Maine 189 Eâ4.d Minnesota 189 Eâ4.e Utah 189 Eâ4.f Wyoming 190 F Biographical Sketches of Panel Members and Staff 191
List of Figures 1-1 Bureau of Justice Statistics budget requests and ï¬nal total appropriations, 1981â2006, and National Crime Victimization Survey data collection costs, 1990â2006 21 3-1 Noninterview and refusal rates, National Crime Victimization Survey, 1992â2005 43 3-2 National Crime Victimization Survey and Uniform Crime Reports estimates of serious violent crimes, 1973â2005 72 C-1 Year-to-year change in NCVS violent crime victimization rate, 1993â2005 156 xvii
List of Tables 3-1 Rape and Assault Rates, National Crime Victimization Survey and National Violence Against Women Survey, 1995 50 3-2 Estimates of the Average Economic Loss Associated with Criminal Victimization 66 3-3 Comparative Expenditures on Victimization Surveys, United States and England and Wales 69 4-1 Short-Term Changes to the NCVS to Achieve Cost Reductions 84 4-2 Current and Possible Alternative Designs for the NCVS 94 4-3 Goals of the NCVS and Alternatives to the Current Designs 102 C-1 Number of Households and Persons Interviewed by Year, 1996â2005 156 C-2 Month of Incident by Month of Interview in the Current NCVS Sample Design 158 C-3 Number of Interviews Completed by NCVS Sample Households, 1995â1999 167 D-1 National Data Sources Related to Crime Victimization in the United States 172 E-1 Design Features of Nation-Speciï¬c Victimization Surveys 178 xix
List of Boxes 1-1 Major Steps in the Development of the National Crime Victimization Survey 17 1-2 Notable Reductions in the National Crime Victimization Survey 20 3-1 Value of Information from a Decision-Making Point of View 64 4-1 Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System 98 4-2 Texas Crime Poll 100 E-1 Recommendations of the United Kingdom Statistics Commission (2006) 182 E-2 Selected Recommendations of the Smith (2006) Independent Review of British Crime Statistics 183 xxi