This article was edited by Jay Teachman.
Are Divorce Studies Trustworthy? The Effects of Survey Nonresponse and Response Errors
Version of Record online: 9 JUL 2010
Copyright © National Council on Family Relations, 2010
Journal of Marriage and Family
Volume 72, Issue 4, pages 893–905, August 2010
How to Cite
Mitchell, C. (2010), Are Divorce Studies Trustworthy? The Effects of Survey Nonresponse and Response Errors. Journal of Marriage and Family, 72: 893–905. doi: 10.1111/j.1741-3737.2010.00737.x
- Issue online: 9 JUL 2010
- Version of Record online: 9 JUL 2010
- marriage and close relationships;
- panel studies;
- relationship processes;
- survey research
Researchers rely on relationship data to measure the multifaceted nature of families. This article speaks to relationship data quality by examining the ramifications of different types of error on divorce estimates, models predicting divorce behavior, and models employing divorce as a predictor. Comparing matched survey and divorce certificate information from the 1995 Life Events and Satisfaction Study (N = 1,811) showed that nonresponse error is responsible for the majority of the error in divorce data. Misreporting the divorce event was rare, and more than two thirds of respondents provided a divorce date within 6 months of the actual date. Nevertheless, divorce date error attenuated effects of time since divorce on outcomes. Gender, child custody, marital history, and education were associated with divorce error.