Panel Conditioning Effects in Longitudinal Social Science Surveys: Implications for Measuring Social and Economic Well-Being

John R. Warren, University of Minnesota
Andrew Halpern-Manners, University of Minnesota

Does participating in one wave of a longitudinal survey affect respondents’ reports of their social and economic well-being in follow-up survey waves? If survey participation does alter respondents’ subsequent answers to questions about their social and economic well-being, then this calls into question the validity of information derived from any number of widely used data resources. In this paper, we estimate the magnitude of what methodologists have called panel conditioning or “time-in-survey” effects. Previous efforts to estimate the magnitude of panel conditioning effects have used methodologically weak designs and have focused on consequences for a limited range of measures. We use a stronger research design and use large-scale survey data on a wide range of measures of individuals’ social and economic well-being to test a series of theoretically derived hypotheses about the circumstances under which panel conditioning effects should be most severe. Preliminary results generally support these hypotheses.

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Presented in Session 63: The Dynamics of Social and Economic Well-Being