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Keywords:

  • heterogeneity;
  • incomplete data;
  • intermittent observation;
  • multistate models;
  • Markov processes

Life history studies collect information on events and other outcomes during people's lifetimes. For example, these may be related to childhood development, education, fertility, health, or employment. Such longitudinal studies have constraints on the selection of study members, the duration and frequency of follow-up, and the accuracy and completeness of information obtained. These constraints, along with factors associated with the definition and measurement of certain outcomes, affect our ability to understand, model, and analyze life history processes. My objective here is to discuss and illustrate some issues associated with the design and analysis of life history studies. Copyright © 2013 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.