Scandinavian Working Papers in Economics

Working Paper Series,
IFAU - Institute for Evaluation of Labour Market and Education Policy

No 2004:12: Survey non-response and unemployment duration

Gerard J van den Berg (), Maarten Lindeboom and Peter J Dolton
Additional contact information
Gerard J van den Berg: Free University Amsterdam, Postal: De Boelelaan 1105 , 1081 HV Amsterdam , The Netherlands ,
Maarten Lindeboom: Free University Amsterdam, Postal: De Boelelaan 1105 , 1081 HV Amsterdam , The Netherlands
Peter J Dolton: University of Newcastle-upon-Tyne

Abstract: Social surveys are often used to estimate unemployment duration distributions. Survey non-response may then cause a bias. We study this using a unique dataset that combines survey information of individual workers with administrative records of the same workers. The latter provide information on unemployment durations and personal characteristics of all survey respondents and non-respondents. We develop a method to empirically distinguish between two explanations for a bias in results based on only survey data: (1) selectivity due to related unobserved determinants of unemployment durations and non-response, and (2) a causal effect of a job exit on non-response. The latter may occur even in fully homogenous populations. The methodology exploits variation in the timing of the duration outcome relative to the survey moment. The results show evidence for both explanations. We discuss implications for standard methods to deal with non-response bias.

Keywords: Non-response bias; unemployment measurement; hazard rate; sample selection; event history

JEL-codes: J69

38 pages, August 31, 2004

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