MEPS Panel Design

MEPS participants enter the survey as members of a unique survey panel, beginning with Panel 1 entering the survey in 1996, followed by Panel 2 entering the survey in 1997, etc. Each panel then remains in the survey for a total of two calendar years. The following figure provides an example of the first three panels that entered MEPS (Panels 1-3) and their progress over the first four calendar years of the survey (1996-1999).

MEPS Panel Design Example

In any given calendar year, two panels will be participating in the survey. In the figure above, Panel 1 enters the survey in calendar year 1, and completes their first relative year of data collection. They remain in the survey during calendar year 2 for their second relative year of data collection. Simultaneously, during calendar year 2, Panel 2 respondents enter the survey and complete their first relative year of data collection. The following year (calendar year 3), Panel 1 has completed data collection and has exited the survey, while Panel 2 remains in the survey for the second year of data collection, and Panel 3 enters the survey for their first year of data collection. Each survey year1 follows this pattern and has two panels participating in the survey.

Participants in each MEPS panel are interviewed a total of five times (at each of five "Rounds") over two calendar years. During their first year in the survey, they are interviewed twice (Rounds 1 and 2). In their second year in the survey, they are interviewed three additional times (Rounds 3-5). Round 1 and 2 interviews always take place during the first survey year, and have a reference period (the period of time respondents are reporting on) that is also in the first survey year. Round 4 and 5 interviews always take place in the second survey year, and have a reference period that is also in the second survey year. Round 3 interviews typically take place in the second survey year; however, the reference period that respondents are reporting on may have taken place in the first survey year, the second survey year, or may span both survey years. All households receive a total of five interviews unless they exit the survey.

References

11996 is an exception; because it is the first year of the entire MEPS survey, there is only a single panel in this year. In all other years, there are two panels participating in the survey.

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