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Developing the Survey of Program Dynamics Survey Instruments

Jennifer Hess, Jennifer Rothgeb, and Andy Zukerberg

KEY WORDS: Welfare Reform, Cognitive Interviewing, Questionnaire Design, Survey of Program Dynamics


As part of The Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act of 1996, more commonly know as the Welfare Reform Act, the Census Bureau was charged to evaluate the impact of the law. Toward this end, the Census Bureau has developed the Survey of Program Dynamics (SPD). With current funding, the SPD will extend the 1992/93 SIPP panels through 2001 resulting in 10-years of longitudinal data. The 1998 SPD survey instruments contain two distinct parts: one is an interviewer-administered automated instrument to be answered by an adult respondent and the second is an adolescent self-administered instrument for persons 12-17 years of age. We will describe challenges we faced in designing and testing these two new survey instruments and present limited results from cognitive interviews and a field pretest. Design issues include incorporating both household- and person-level questions to improve the efficiency of collecting income data, and administering questions for the adolescent questionnaire with a personal audio-cassette player (with headphones) to ensure privacy for the adolescent respondent when answering potentially sensitive questions on various behaviors and practices. Testing issues include conducting cognitive interviews from the paper version of the automated adult questionnaire because of a compressed schedule for pretesting the instrument, conducting cognitive interviews on an instrument designed to be administered by cassette player with adolescents, and, after a field pretest, making recommendations for questionnaire revisions based on information from limited questionnaire evaluation sources.

CITATION: 1998, Proceedings of the Section on Survey Research Methods, Alexandria, VA: American Statistical Association, pp. 000-000.

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