Adjusting for Measurement Error in Retrospectively Reported Work Histories: An Analysis Using Swedish Register Data
We use work histories retrospectively reported and matched to register data from the Swedish unemployment office to assess: 1) the prevalence of measurement error in reported spells of unemployment; 2) the impact of using such spells as the response variable of an exponential model; and 3) strategies for the adjustment of the measurement error. Due to the omission or misclassification of spells in work histories we cannot carry out typical adjustments for memory failures based on multiplicative models. Instead we suggest an adjustment method based on a mixture Bayesian model capable of differentiating between misdated spells and those for which the observed and true durations are unrelated. This adjustment is applied in two manners, one assuming access to a validation subsample and another relying on a strong prior for the mixture mechanism. Both solutions demonstrate a substantial reduction in the vast biases observed in the regression coefficients of the exponential model when survey data is used.
Adjustment of Recall Errors in Duration Data Using SIMEX
It is widely accepted that due to memory failures retrospective survey questions tend to be prone to measurement error. However, the proportion of studies using such data that attempt to adjust for the measurement problem is shockingly low. Arguably, to a great extent this is due to both the complexity of the methods available and the need to access a subsample containing either a gold standard or replicated values. Here I suggest the implementation of a version of SIMEX capable of adjusting for the types of multiplicative measurement errors associated with memory failures in the retrospective report of durations of life-course events. SIMEX is a method relatively simple to implement and it does not require the use of replicated or validation data so long as the error process can be adequately specified. To assess the effectiveness of the method I use simulated data. I create twelve scenarios based on the combinations of three outcome models (linear, logit and Poisson) and four types of multiplicative errors (non-systematic, systematic negative, systematic positive and heteroscedastic) affecting one of the explanatory variables. I show that SIMEX can be satisfactorily implemented in each of these scenarios. Furthermore, the method can also achieve partial adjustments even in scenarios where the actual distribution and prevalence of the measurement error differs substantially from what is assumed in the adjustment, which makes it an interesting sensitivity tool in those cases where all that is known about the error process is reduced to an educated guess.