Publication Abstract

Gatny, Heather H., and William G. Axinn. 2012. “Willingness to Participate in Research during Pregnancy: Race, Experience, and Motivation.” Field Methods 24:135-154.

This paper examines the willingness of pregnant women to participate in research on health. We investigate attitudes toward multiple methods of data collection including survey and biomarker data collection. Complete interviews were obtained from a sample of 90 pregnant women in a matched control-comparison study of patients receiving prenatal care in private practice and clinic settings. Women experiencing prenatal care at a clinic reported less willingness to participate in research than women experiencing prenatal care at a private practice. Women who deemed “contributing to science”, “learning about pregnancy health”, and “helping future patients” as important motivations for participating in research were more likely to express willingness to participate in a study. African American women reported less willingness to answer questions in a survey compared to white women. The results suggest that motivational factors should be integrated into the design of a study of pregnant women to encourage participation.

DOI: 10.1177/1525822X11419819

PMCID: PMC3393046

Publication Abstract

Thornton, Arland, Dirgha J. Ghimire, and Colter Mitchell. 2012. “The Measurement and Prevalence of an Ideational Model of Family and Economic Development in Nepal.” Population Studies 66(3):329-345.

Developmental idealism (DI) is a system of beliefs and values that endorses modern societies and families and sees them as occurring together, with modern families as causes and consequences of societal development. This study was motivated by the belief that the population of Nepal has absorbed these ideas and that the ideas affect their family behaviour. We use data collected in Nepal in 2003 to show that Nepalis discuss ideas about development and its relationship to family life and that DI has been widely accepted. It is related in predictable ways to education, paid employment, rural-urban residence, and mass media exposure. Although it would be useful to know its influence on demographic decision-making and behaviour, we cannot evaluate this with our one-time cross-sectional survey. Our data and theory suggest that this influence may be substantial.

DOI: 10.1080/00324728.2012.714795

PMCID: PMC3505987

Publication Abstract

Wagner, James, Brady T. West, Nicole Kirgis, James Lepkowski, William G. Axinn, and Shonda Kruger Ndiaye. 2012. “Use of Paradata in a Responsive Design Framework to Manage a Field Data Collection.” Journal of Official Statistics 28(4):477–499.

In many surveys there is a great deal of uncertainty about assumptions regarding key design parameters. This leads to uncertainty about the cost and error structures of the surveys. Responsive survey designs use indicators of potential survey error to determine when design changes should be made on an ongoing basis during data collection. These changes are meant to minimize total survey error. They are made during the field period as updated estimates of proxy indicators for the various sources of error become available. In this article we illustrate responsive design in a large continuous data collection: the 2006–2010 U.S. National Survey of Family Growth. We describe three paradata-guided interventions designed to improve survey quality: case prioritization, “screener week,” and sample balance. Our analyses demonstrate that these interventions systematically alter interviewer behavior, creating beneficial effects on both efficiency and proxy measures of the risk of nonresponse bias, such as variation in subgroup response rates.

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PMCID: PMC Journal – In Process

Publication Abstract

Axinn, William G., Dirgha J. Ghimire, and Nathalie E. Williams. 2012. “Collecting Survey Data During Armed Conflict.” Journal of Official Statistics 28(2):153-171.

Surveys provide crucial information about the social consequences of armed conflict, but armed conflict can shape surveys in ways that limit their value. We use longitudinal survey data from throughout the recent armed conflict in Nepal to investigate the relationship between armed conflict events and survey response. The Chitwan Valley Family Study (CVFS) provides a rare window into survey data collection through intense armed conflict. The CVFS data reveal that with operational strategies tailored to the specific conflict, duration of the panel study is the main determinant of attrition from the study, just as in most longitudinal studies outside of conflict settings. Though minor relative to duration, different dimensions of armed conflict can affect survey response in opposing directions, with bombings in the local area reducing response rates but nationwide political events increasing response rates. This important finding demonstrates that survey data quality may be affected differently by various dimensions of armed conflict. Overall, CVFS response rates remained exceptionally high throughout the conflict. We use the CVFS experience to identify principles likely to produce higher quality surveys during periods of generalized violence and instability.

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PMCID: PMC3571111

Publication Abstract

Link, Cynthia F., William G. Axinn, and Dirgha J. Ghimire. 2012. “Household Energy Consumption: Community Context and Fuelwood Transition.” Social Science Research 41:598-611.

We examine the influence of community context on change over time in households’ use of non-wood fuels. Our theoretical framework builds on sociological concepts in order to study energy consumption at the micro-level. The framework emphasizes the importance of nonfamily organizations and services in the local community as determinants of the transition from use of fuelwood to use of alternative fuels. We use multilevel longitudinal data on household fuel choice and community context from rural Nepal to provide empirical tests of our theoretical model. Results reveal that increased exposure to nonfamily organizations in the local community increases the use of alternative fuels. The findings illustrate key features of human impacts on the local environment and motivate greater incorporation of social organization into research on environmental change.

DOI: 10.1016/j.ssresearch.2011.12.007

PMCID: PMC3461177

Publication Abstract

Williams, Nathalie E., Dirgha J. Ghimire, William G. Axinn, Elyse A. Jennings, and Meeta S. Pradhan. 2012. “A Micro-Level Event-Centered Approach to Investigating Armed Conflict and Population Responses.” Demography 49(4):1521-1546.

In this article, we construct and test a micro-level event-centered approach to the study of armed conflict and behavioral responses in the general population. Event-centered approaches have been successfully used in the macro-political study of armed conflict but have not yet been adopted in micro-behavioral studies. The micro-level event-centered approach that we advocate here includes decomposition of a conflict into discrete political and violent events, examination of the mechanisms through which they affect behavior, and consideration of differential risks within the population. We focus on two mechanisms: instability and threat of harm. We test this approach empirically in the context of the recent decade-long armed conflict in Nepal, using detailed measurements of conflict-related events and a longitudinal study of first migration, first marriage, and first contraceptive use. Results demonstrate that different conflict-related events independently shaped migration, marriage, and childbearing and that they can simultaneously influence behaviors in opposing directions. We find that violent events increased migration, but political events slowed migration. Both violent and political events increased marriage and contraceptive use net of migration. Overall, this micro-level event-centered approach yields a significant advance for the study of how armed conflict affects civilian behavioral responses.

DOI: 10.1007/s13524-012-0134-8

PMCID: PMC3495997

Publication Abstract

Thornton, Arland, Georgina Binstock, Kathryn M. Yount, Mohammad Jalal Abbasi-Shavazi, Dirgha J. Ghimire, and Yu Xie. 2012. “International Fertility Change: New Data and Insights from the Developmental Idealism Framework.” Demography 49(2):677-698.

Many scholars have offered structural and ideational explanations for the fertility changes occurring around the world. This paper focuses on the influence of developmental idealism—a schema or set of beliefs endorsing development, fertility change, and causal connections between development and fertility. Developmental idealism is argued to be an important force affecting both population policy and the fertility behavior of ordinary people. We present new survey data from ordinary people in six countries—Argentina, China, Egypt, Iran, Nepal, and the United States—about the extent to which developmental idealism is known and believed. We ask individuals if they believe that fertility and development are correlated, that development is a causal force in changing fertility levels, and that fertility declines enhance the standard of living and intergenerational relations. We also ask people about their expectations concerning future trends in fertility in their countries and whether they approve or disapprove of the trends they expect. The data show widespread linkage in the minds of ordinary people between fertility and development. Large fractions of people in these six settings believe that fertility and development are correlated, that development reduces fertility, and that declines in fertility foster development. Many also expect and endorse future declines in fertility.

DOI: 10.1007/s13524-012-0097-9

PMCID: PMC3328099

Publication Abstract

Thornton, Arland, Georgina Binstock, Mohammad Jalal Abbasi-Shavazi, Dirgha J. Ghimire, Arjan Gjonca, Attila Melegh, Colter Mitchell, Mansoor Moaddel, Yu Xie, Li-Shou Yang, Linda Young-DeMarco, and Kathryn M. Yount. 2012. “Knowledge and Beliefs about National Development and Development Hierarchies: The Viewpoints of Ordinary People in Thirteen Countries.” Social Science Research 41:1053-1068.

Scholars and policy makers have for centuries constructed and used developmental hierarchies to characterize different countries. The hypotheses motivating this paper are that such social constructions have been circulated internationally, are constructed similarly in various countries, and follow the social constructions of elite international organizations, such as the United Nations. This paper uses data from 15 surveys in 13 diverse countries to study how developmental hierarchies are understood in everyday life. Our research shows that most people have constructions of developmental hierarchies that are similar across countries and are similar to the developmental hierarchies constructed by the United Nations. These findings suggest that developmental hierarchies are widely understood around the world and are widely available to ordinary people as they make decisions about many aspects of life.

DOI: 10.1016/j.ssresearch.2012.03.005

PMCID: PMC3462366

Publication Abstract

Jennings, Elyse A., William G. Axinn, and Dirgha J. Ghimire. 2012. “The Effect of Parents’ Attitudes on Sons’ Marriage Timing.” American Sociological Review 77(6):923-945.

Theories of family stability and change, demographic processes, and social psychological influences on behavior all posit that parental attitudes and beliefs are a key influence on their children’s behavior. We have evidence of these effects in Western populations, but little information regarding this social mechanism in non-Western contexts. Furthermore, comparisons of mothers’ and fathers’ independent roles in these crucial intergenerational mechanisms are rare. This article uses measures from a 10-year family panel study featuring independent interviews with mothers and fathers in rural Nepal to investigate these issues. We test the association of specific attitudes, rather than broad ideational domains, about childbearing and old-age care with sons’ subsequent marriage behavior. Our results indicate that both mothers’ and fathers’ attitudes have important and independent influences on sons’ marriage behavior. Simultaneous study of both parents’ attitudes reveals that gender-specific parenting contexts can shape the relationship between parental attitudes and children’s behaviors. This crucial mechanism of intergenerational continuity and change is strong in this non-Western setting, with substantial implications for studies of intergenerational influences on behavior in all settings.

DOI: 10.1177/0003122412464041

PMCID: PMC3590910

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