Creating questions and protocols for an international study of ideas about development, demographic behavior, and family life

Arland Thornton, University of Michigan

This paper reports work to understand people’s knowledge and perceptions of socioeconomic development and its relationship to family and demographic behavior. It was motivated by work suggesting that beliefs concerning development influence demographic and family behavior. Our substantive goal was to study the consequences of holding specific viewpoints about development for family and demographic behaviors, including marriage, childbearing, migration, and health. When we began our work, we knew of no tools to measure people’s understanding and evaluation of development. Our challenge was to create such tools. We have conducted in-depth interviews, focus groups, cognitive interviews, and surveys in eleven places around the world: Albania, Argentina, China, Egypt, Iran, Iraq, Nepal, Saudi Arabia, Taiwan, the United States, and Vietnam. In this paper, we describe our approach to create and test questionnaires, discuss problems that we have encountered, present lessons we have learned, and provide preliminary evidence of our success.

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Presented in Session 69: Forecasting, methods and data