Journal of Economic and Social Measurement - Volume 40, issue 1-4
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ISSN 0747-9662 (P)
ISSN 1875-8932 (E)
The Journal of Economic and Social Measurement (JESM) is a quarterly journal that is concerned with the investigation of all aspects of production, distribution and use of economic and other societal statistical data, and with the use of computers in that context. JESM publishes articles that consider the statistical methodology of economic and social science measurements. It is concerned with the methods and problems of data distribution, including the design and implementation of data base systems and, more generally, computer software and hardware for distributing and accessing statistical data files. Its focus on computer software also includes the valuation of algorithms and their implementation, assessing the degree to which particular algorithms may yield more or less accurate computed results. It addresses the technical and even legal problems of the collection and use of data, legislation and administrative actions affecting government produced or distributed data files, and similar topics.
The journal serves as a forum for the exchange of information and views between data producers and users. In addition, it considers the various uses to which statistical data may be put, particularly to the degree that these uses illustrate or affect the properties of the data. The data considered in JESM are usually economic or social, as mentioned, but this is not a requirement; the editorial policies of JESM do not place a priori restrictions upon the data that might be considered within individual articles. Furthermore, there are no limitations concerning the source of the data.
Abstract: We introduce this special issue on the critical matter of whether the existing household panel surveys in the U.S. are adequate to address the important emerging social science and policy questions of the next few decades. We summarize the conference papers which address this issue in different domains. The papers detail many new and important emerging research questions but also identify key limitations in existing panels in addressing those questions. To address these limitations, we consider the advantages and disadvantages of initiating a new, general-purpose omnibus household panel in the U.S. We also discuss the particular benefits of starting new…panels that have specific targeted domains such as child development, population health and health care. We also develop a list of valuable enhancements to existing panels which could address many of their limitations.
Keywords: Survey, economics, sociology, health research
Abstract: This paper assesses the data infrastructure needed for future research and policy evaluation on income, program participation, poverty, and financial vulnerability in the United States. I present a broad-based discussion of research needs on the long-term consequences of income inequality and mobility, transfer-program participation and intergenerational dependence, poverty measurement and poverty persistence, and material deprivation. I summarize what information we currently collect in U.S. household panels, highlighting specific challenges such as earnings nonresponse and transfer-income underreporting. I conclude that a first priority is to improve the quality, scale, and scope of currently fielded surveys, including linked survey-administrative data, before embarking…on a new longitudinal panel to address research on inequality, poverty, and material well being.
Keywords: Income inequality, intergenerational mobility, material hardship, panel data, nonresponse, top-code
Abstract: This paper reviews the most important scientific and policy research in the area of human capital, education achievement and learning and discusses the need for a new nationally representative household panel for the United States to provide the research resources necessary to keep the United States at the forefront of scientific and policy research in this area. Excellent panel data incorporating recent advances in panel design and innovative measures are required for addressing the most important policy issues.
Keywords: Human capital, skills, tasks, panel data
Abstract: Many of the key issues confronting modern societies are closely tied to labor market outcomes: What factors contribute to the persistence of poverty and deprivation? Why does long-term unemployment damage re-entry prospects into labor markets? Along which dimensions is economic inequality increasing, and to what extent should we be concerned about these trends? To what degree is inequality transmitted within families across generations? Why does race play such an important role in economic success in the U.S.? How are male-female differences in economic outcomes shifting over time? In this essay we suggest that a well-designed survey that follows individuals within…households over a long horizon is crucial for sorting some facets of these questions. We provide some thoughts about how a future household survey should be designed for the purpose facilitating high-value research in empirical labor economics.
Abstract: In this essay I summarize what I see as the most important academic and policy issues related to the study of consumption behavior in the US (and elsewhere). I discuss the type of data researchers working on these topics have available, the problems they encounter, and how the ``big data revolution'' is rapidly changing access and availability of data on household spending. Finally, I discuss the arguments in favor and against starting a new national panel survey collecting consumption-related information as opposed to enhancing or improving the existing surveys.
Abstract: Several U.S. panel surveys measure household wealth. At the same time, our understanding of many important aspects of household wealth accumulation remains incomplete. We argue that measurement error is one factor that limits the usefulness of the existing longitudinal surveys for research on wealth and savings. We review the features of wealth data that make it difficult to collect and assess which assets and debts households are more likely to report accurately. An examination of data from the Survey of Consumer Finances suggests that households find it particularly difficult to report the values of their pensions and businesses. We suggest…several considerations in choosing between improving existing surveys and starting a new one.
Abstract: This paper considers whether the U.S. needs a new national survey to measure time use. The paper begins by discussing the ways that time use is measured within the U.S; as a part of that discussion, the pros and cons of the different methods are highlighted. Next, the paper highlights why time use data is essential to addressing many questions in social sciences. The paper then turns to outlining the current gaps in our measurement of household time use. Finally, the paper discusses whether a new national dataset is needed to address these gaps. The paper concludes that a…new national survey is not needed to fill the gaps - however, some guidance is provided as to how existing surveys can be modified to improve time use measurement.
Abstract: The American family has undergone rapid transformation. Careful measurement attention to family formation is important because families are at the heart of numerous decisions, roles, and responsibilities with implications for understanding the well-being of families, adults and children. This paper considers whether there is a need for a new household panel study that addresses family formation. This paper consists of a review of the recent body of population-based, American surveys and finds a considerable gap in the ability to study the implications of families for the health and well-being of Americans. Earlier panel surveys used to assess family life anchored…questions around marital events, but changes in family patterns require attention to a more diverse set of family forms. The paper concludes with recommendations for a multi-purpose panel study. The key challenge is to keep to pace with complexity and changes in American family life while at the same time maintaining a parsimonious set of survey questions.
Keywords: Family, household, measurement, panel data
Abstract: This paper examines the extent to which a new nationally representative household panel survey could bring children and adolescents to the forefront of its design. We begin by discussing how major demographic shifts, such as reduced social mobility and transformations in family structure, may affect children and adolescent development through individual, family, and sociocultural processes. We then review the existing household surveys in the United States and highlight the strengths and weaknesses for studying how major societal trends and changes affect child and adolescent development. We then debate several different design approaches for a new study and recommend either a…longitudinal panel design, which includes all children in the panel survey, or a sequential cohort design, that includes a subsample of children and embedded birth cohort study. We highlight that a large, nationally representative dataset cannot replace standalone, more in-depth developmental studies of children and adolescents with high-fidelity measurement of processes. Instead, we argue that a new panel survey could take a more targeted approach and measure the major constructs of children's development as well as select family and sociocultural processes by drawing on recent advances in survey measurement techniques. We conclude by affirming that new household survey has the potential to contribute greatly to our understanding of the developmental origins of life long wellbeing as well as the effects of major demographic shifts in the 21st century on child and adolescent development.
Keywords: Child and adolescent development, measurement, household surveys, birth cohort and longitudinal studies
Abstract: I argue that the United States needs new survey data on intergenerational relationships in light of the dramatic demographic changes in parent-child and couple relationships that were not anticipated when many major family datasets were designed. Increases in nonmarital childbearing, the instability of parents' relationships and high rates of repartnering challenge conventional approaches to data collection on families. Large race-ethnic and socioeconomic differences in the extent of these changes and their impact on intergenerational support may contribute to growing inequality. A new study must collect data on both household relationships and relationships among family members who live apart because most…U.S. parents and adult offspring do not co-reside. The survey should obtain information on the timing of family transitions and include multiple cohorts to take account of differences in societal conditions that influence family experiences. A longitudinal design would show how parent-child relationships unfold over time and build on past histories. The paper identifies the dimensions of intergenerational ties that should be measured and explains why existing data cannot address the need for a new study.
Keywords: Family support, inequality, intergenerational relationships, kin networks, life course, safety net, transfers
Abstract: This paper highlights the importance of the social networks perspective in social science research and describes the main approaches to measuring social networks and closely related phenomena - including social capital and kin networks - in existing household panel surveys. It then identifies cutting-edge techniques for collecting new data on social networks within the context of a household panel survey design. We focus in particular on possible extensions to traditional egocentric network data collection, the proper enumeration of kin networks and social support in unstable and complex families, measurement of communication via information and communication technology, and identification of the…social network properties of social media participation.
Keywords: Social networks, social capital, social media, survey research
Abstract: This paper considers the potential value of a new household panel to help understand issues related to housing and neighborhood conditions in the United States. The key scientific and policy issues that a panel study would be particularly valuable for addressing are primarily descriptive and include evaluating durations of exposures to housing and neighborhood conditions, and understanding factors determining household mobility that in turn determines the conditions that households experience and neighborhood compositions. For these purposes a national household panel has important advantages over existing data sources, and we offer several suggestions for key data elements to collect to maximize…the information available for research in this area. We are agnostic about whether the creation of a new national household panel would be more valuable than devoting resources to enhancing the existing Panel Study of Income Dynamics (PSID).
Keywords: Housing, neighborhoods, panel data, residential mobility, neighborhood effects, social capital
Abstract: This paper considers the availability of data for addressing questions related to health insurance and health care and the potential contribution of a new household panel study. The paper begins by outlining some of the major questions related to policy and concludes that survey data on health insurance, access to care, health spending, and overall economic well-being will likely be needed to answer them. The paper considers the strengths and weaknesses of existing sources of survey data for answering these questions. The paper concludes that either a new national panel study, an expansion in the age range of subjects in…existing panel studies, or a set of smaller changes to existing panel and cross-sectional surveys, would significantly enhance our understanding of the dynamics of health insurance, access to health care, and economic well-being.
Keywords: Survey data, longitudinal studies, health insurance, access to care, health reform
Abstract: This paper examines the potential contributions of a new longitudinal household survey that assesses physical health and the social and behavioral factors that impinge on it. It considers how such a survey could inform efforts to reduce health disparities in the United States and improve population health. Health is multiply determined by the interaction of genetic vulnerabilities, behavior, social conditions and environmental exposures over the life course. While the mapping of the human genome focused attention on the biological underpinnings of disease, social and behavioral determinants play an equally essential role. Our failure as a nation to adequately address…these determinants may help to explain why the US spends more per capita on health care than do other countries, but compared to the other nations, our population is less healthy and has a shorter life expectancy. This paper describes why achieving better health for the population requires data on individual, family and community conditions and their link to disease risk, onset and progression. It reviews limitations of current surveys in capturing this information and argues for a multi-level life course perspective spanning: macro-environmental exposures (e.g., environmental contaminants, institutional structures), meso-environmental factors (e.g., family and social ties, neighborhood and work conditions), psychological states and traits (e.g., anxiety, mastery, stress), health-related behaviors (e.g., smoking, exercise), and physiological processes and risk (e.g., cortisol, HbA1c, telomeres). We consider challenges to data collection and sample considerations such as oversampling of high SES blacks and sampling based on place as well as person. We note that technological advances that may increasingly enable direct collection of cognitive and emotional states, behavior, biology, and placement in space. Finally, we acknowledge that a single survey cannot address all the relevant questions, point to opportunities to leverage other studies, and identify key elements for a new survey.
Keywords: Health, mortality, disparities, social determinants, stress, gene-environment, biomarkers, place
Abstract: In this paper, I demonstrate that existing social surveys that include genotypic markers are all limited on at least one of the following dimensions: national representativeness (versus targeted sample), genotyping platform (candidate genes v. genome-wide measures), data structure (i.e. individuals v. pedigrees), or measured phenotypes (lack of rich longitudinal socioeconomic and developmental measures). Given this, I argue that the U.S. either needs a novel, nationally representative household panel study that includes genome-wide marker data or to genotype all respondents of the existing Panel Study of Income Dynamics. I conclude by showing that such a study would be adequately powered to…deploy Genetic Risk Score analysis and that, in turn, such scores could be deployed to model gene-environment interaction effects.
Keywords: Genotype, G × E, national household panel, behavior genetics, Socio-genomics
Abstract: This paper reviews measures of the physical and cognitive abilities of adults in the context of a national household panel survey and considers whether a new household panel survey is needed to answer scientific and policy questions related to disability. To address this topic, we first review illustrative scientific and policy issues related to disability and functioning and review gaps in the nation's disability-related data system. Next, we offer a set of key domains to be measured, review several additional covariates of interest, and describe existing summary measures to identify the population living with disability. Finally, we take up the…challenging issue of tradeoffs in starting a new household survey versus enhancing existing studies or developing specialized studies with a focus on disability to address these issues.
Abstract: This paper identifies new opportunities for innovation and expansion on current survey practice in the design of a new household panel survey, including an increased use of new and mobile technologies, more frequent data collection, modified clustering, and use of non-traditional survey measures such as administrative data, planned missing/matrix sampling questionnaire design, real-time data collection, and biomarkers. These innovative data collection methods require rethinking traditional panel survey methods, but can help reduce respondent burden and expand on current social science knowledge. The paper concludes that a new household panel survey would improve knowledge about important social, economic and health issues…facing the US, and would provide a useful test bed for new hypotheses and innovative methods of data collection.
Keywords: New household panel survey, survey methodology, survey design
Abstract: A Nationally Representative Household Panel Survey (NRHPS) would represent a natural extension into the mid-21st century of the development of repeated cross-sectional and then longitudinal/panel household surveys that have constituted major resources for developments in social science and social policy since World War II. Although an inherently expensive endeavor, it would keep the U.S. comparable to and competitive with similarly wealthy nations that have already developed NRHPSs. An NRHPS may be the most cost-effective way to generate the data needed for advancement in social science and social policy because such progress requires data on a much wider range of…attributes of the same individuals, households, and their environments than are currently available in existing surveys. These surveys tend to be specialized by scientific disciplines, substantive/policy areas, and/or segments of the population, and thus preclude the kind of thinking and data necessary across disciplines, substantive policy areas, and segments of the population that are most needed in both social science and social policy. To be a cost-effective vehicle for such purposes an NHRPS must: (1) create integration and synergy across disciplines, substantive areas, and population subgroups; (2) cost-effectively meet scientific and logistical challenges; and (3) foster and utilize scientific and methodological innovations.
Keywords: Social science, social policy, nationally representative sample, innovation, interdisciplinary, cost-effectiveness, methodology
Abstract: The United States is undergoing rapid social change. The nation faces declines in stable family formation, related to growing income inequalities and stalled improvements in population health. This essay considers key questions about families in the United States and whether a new nationally representative panel study is necessary to answer these questions. It argues that current data systems are not well equipped to evaluate the potential sources of these changes over historical time. Most of our longitudinal data systems are designed to follow a single cohort as it ages. This provides an incomplete picture, one that ignores period context, because…cohort studies confound period changes with aging. Comparisons across cohort studies can be helpful, but leave a wide gap in our knowledge. A new nationally representative panel study would fill that gap.
Keywords: Family, households, social trends, data collection