Missing Data and Attrition

Du FengandZhen Cong

Texas Tech University

Merril Silverstein

University of Southern California


Aging, health, and social science researchers seek to understand the stages of life when respondents are at elevated risks of mortality and frailty, but attrition (i.e., permanent loss of subjects due to death or drop-out) presents a particular concern for longitudinal studies, given the increasing probability of morbidity and mortality with age. There are many causes of missing data. Wave nonresponse occurs when certain respondents are unreachable, or refuse to participate. Item nonresponse occurs when some participants may not know how, or refuse, to answer specific questions. The term “right censoring” is used in survival ...

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