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Measurement Errors in SIPP Program Reports

Kent H. Marquis and Jeffrey C. Moore

KEY WORDS: Response errors, Memory decay, Telescoping, Interviewer variance, Proxy reporting, Cognitive heuristics


An administrative record check of program participation reporting in the first two SIPP interviews shows that, while response errors are rare, they have important biasing effects on estimates of means and correlations. Our search for models of the causes of the errors includes classical hypotheses about forgetting, memory decay, confusion about name attributes, telescoping, learning to underreport, interviewers, and proxy responses. While these hypotheses give occasional insights into isolated error problems, they do not provide a fundamental understanding of the error dynamics. We mention some exploratory cognitive research that may provide the broader understanding and may be useful in devising better measurement procedures.

CITATION: Marquis, Kent H. and Jeffrey C. Moore. (2010). Measurement Errors in SIPP Program Reports. Statistical Research Division Research Report Series (Survey Methodology #2010-01). U.S. Census Bureau. Available online at <>.

Source: U.S. Census Bureau, Statistical Research Division

Published online: January 14, 2010
Last revised: June 1990

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Source: U.S. Census Bureau | Statistical Research Division | (301) 763-3215 (or |   Last Revised: October 08, 2010