New Modules for HRS 2006 Invited

November 5, 2004

The HRS investigators welcome suggestions for modules from the research community. Ideas for modules should be sent to the committee on experimental modules at the address below. It is not necessary to provide specific survey questions just the basic analytic idea, with some indications of the variables that the module should try to measure, will be sufficient. It is also helpful to include references to recent publications on the topic, other studies that have treated the topic, names of persons familiar with the topic, or specific survey instruments. Most modules are written by HRS investigators, often in collaboration with outside consultants. However, modules designed entirely by outside researchers will be considered. All modules must conform to the same overall design limitations, and the academic community, as well as the public, will have access to the data at the same time as the authors and investigators. The HRS investigators will make the final decision about which modules to include in each wave of interviews.

Modules are administered to randomly-selected sub-samples of all HRS respondents, after the main interview is completed, with a strict limit of two to three minutes in average length. Each respondent is randomly assigned to one and only one module. Respondents can refuse to participate in any module before assignment, and can refuse to answer questions in the module to which they are randomly assigned, but interviewers cannot offer nor can respondents choose to respond to a module other than the one selected at random. The sample size of each module depends on the number of modules included. For example, in 2004 there are 11 experimental modules to be divided among an expected 19,000 respondents, yielding an average of about 1700 persons asked to do each module. Response rates to modules have averaged about 80% in prior waves, which would leave about 1360 responses in each module.

In order to preserve the random selection of participants in all modules, it is essential that each module be designed for the entire HRS sample. Modules that target specific groups by age, sex, health status, or any other variable d o not fit well within this structure. If one module were asked of all 51-56 year olds, for example, then the other modules would not represent that age group, with negative consequences for all of them. It is possible, however, to construct different sequences of questions for different groups within a module. For example, a module about cancer knowledge could ask women about breast cancer and men about prostate cancer. Also note that because individual respondents are assigned randomly, it is not possible to require husbands and wives to answer the same module.

The timetable for module development for the 2006 interview wave is as follows:

Please note that fielding of modules in HRS 2006 depends on whether HRS is funded for renewal. The outcome regarding funding will not be known until after the final modules are due. Suggestions for modules should be sent via e-mail to: hrsquestions@umich.edu. Please include the word "module" as the first word in your subject heading.

If you prefer to submit written suggestions, they may be sent to:

HRS Committee on Experimental Modules
3050 ISR
University of Michigan
426 Thompson St.
Ann Arbor, MI 48106-1284

If you find any questions, please contact the Help Desk, or send e-mail to hrsquestions@umich.edu.

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