Designing a household survey to address seasonality in child care arrangements
In household telephone surveys, a long field period may be required to maximize the response rate and achieve adequate sample sizes. However, long field periods can be problematic when measures of seasonally affected behavior are sought. Surveys of child care use are one example because child care arrangements vary by season. Options include varying the questions posed about school-year and summer arrangements or posing retrospective questions about child care use for the school year only. This article evaluates the bias associated with the use of retrospective questions about school-year child care arrangements in the 1999 National Survey of America's Families. The authors find little evidence of bias and hence recommend that future surveys use the retrospective approach.