Retrospective surveys: some experiences in the context of measuring lifecycle events

M. Verhoeven, T.A. Arentze, H.J.P. Timmermans, P.J.H.J. Waerden, van der

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Data on lifecycle events are difficult and expensive to collect using (pseudo-) panels. Retrospective surveys which asked respondents to recall events, may consitute a valuable alternative. This paper reports on our experiences with the design and implementation of an Internet-based retrospective survey. Because the value of retrospective surveys will depend on the salience of the events, influecing the memory trace and retievability of the event, a statistical analysis was conducted to examine the effect of age, cohort and time elapsed between event occurence and event reporting. Results suggest that although retrospective surveys are not errorfree, respondents’ ability to recall major lifecycle events and report some of their key attributes is satisfactory. These findings imply that retrospective surveys constitute a valuable and cheap alternative to collecting data on the sequence of lifetrajectory events.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationProceedings of the 87st Annual Meeting of the Transportation Research Board, Washington DC.
Publication statusPublished - 2008


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