Collecting Event History Data with a Panel Survey: Combining an Electronic Event History Calendar and Dependent Interviewing

Josef Brüderl, Laura Castiglioni, Volker Ludwig, Klaus Pforr, Claudia Schmiedeberg


Many panel surveys collect event history data on events occurring between two waves. This is usually done by asking lists of questions on the various changes that took place between interviews (Q-Lists). Recently, some panel surveys introduced a different data collection method: the Event History Calendar (EHC), credited for collecting more accurate data. However, even the use of an EHC cannot prevent the issue that events tend to be reported spuriously at the seam of consecutive waves (seam effect). On the other hand, research has shown that dependent interviewing (DI) can help reduce this seam effect. Thus, the combination of EHC and DI (DI-EHC) promises to provide more accurate event history data that are not plagued by a seam effect. The German Family Panel pairfam was one of the first panel studies to use DI-EHC. In this article we first report on the practical aspects and the pros and cons of DI-EHC. Further, we report the results of an experiment in which we test whether DI-EHC reduces the seam effect. In sum our practical experiences and the results of our experiment indicate that the instrument is less burdensome than traditional Q-Lists and produces more accurate data. In particular, DI-EHC reduces the seam effect significantly.


Event History Calendar; Dependent Interviewing; Seam Effect; Panel Survey; Questionnaire Design

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Copyright (c) 2017 Josef Brüderl, Laura Castiglioni, Volker Ludwig, Klaus Pforr, Claudia Schmiedeberg

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