Survey non-response and the duration of unemployment

Gerard J. Van Den Berg*, Maarten Lindeboom, Peter J. Dolton

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

13 Citations (Scopus)


Social surveys are often used to estimate unemployment duration distributions. Survey non-response may then cause a bias. We study this by using a data set that combines survey information of individual workers with administrative records of the same workers. The latter provide information on durations of unemployment and personal characteristics of all survey respondents and non-respondents. We develop a method to distinguish empirically between two explanations for a bias in results based on only survey data: selectivity due to related unobserved determinants of durations of unemployment and non-response and a causal effect of a job exit on non-response. The latter may occur even in fully homogeneous 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.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)585-604
Number of pages20
JournalJournal of the Royal Statistical Society: Series A
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2006


  • Event history
  • Hazard rate
  • Non-response bias
  • Sample selection
  • Unemployment measurement


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