September 2006

IZA DP No. 2329: A Large-Scale Validation Study of Measurement Errors in Longitudinal Survey Data

published in: Journal of Economic and Social Measurement, 2007, 32 (2-3), 65-92

In this paper, we analyze measurement and classification errors in several key variables, including earnings and educational attainment, in a matched sample of survey and administrative longitudinal data. The data, spanning 1994-2001 and covering all sectors in the Danish economy, are much more comprehensive than usually seen in validation studies. Measurement errors in earnings are found to be much larger than reported in previous studies limited to one single firm. Individuals who attrite from the panel report their earnings significantly less accurate than individuals who are observed throughout the entire sampling period. Furthermore, females are found to report their earnings significantly more precise than males, part-time workers report significantly less accurate than full-time workers and low-income workers report significantly less accurate than workers with relatively higher income. Classification errors in categorical variables are found to be of about the same magnitude as previously found in the literature. We analyze whether response error in one variable makes it more likely that the same respondent will report other variables with error but do not find support for this hypothesis.