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When to Protect? Using the Crosswise Model to Integrate Protected and Direct Responses in Surveys of Sensitive Behavior

  • Daniel W. Gingerich (a1), Virginia Oliveros (a2), Ana Corbacho (a3) and Mauricio Ruiz-Vega (a3)


Sensitive survey techniques (SSTs) are frequently used to study sensitive behaviors. However, existing strategies for employing SSTs lead to highly variable prevalence estimates and do not permit analysts to address the question of whether the use of an SST is actually necessary. The current article presents a survey questioning strategy and corresponding statistical framework that fills this gap. By jointly analyzing survey responses generated by an SST (the crosswise model) along with direct responses about the sensitive behavior, the article's framework addresses the question of whether the use of an SST is required to study a given sensitive behavior, provides an efficient estimate of the prevalence of the sensitive behavior, and, in its extended form, efficiently estimates how individual characteristics relate to the likelihood of engaging in the behavior. The utility of the approach is demonstrated through an examination of gender differences in proclivities towards corruption in Costa Rica.


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Authors' note: This article was prepared when Ana Corbacho was Sector Economic Advisor and Daniel Gingerich and Virginia Oliveros were visiting scholars at the Inter-American Development Bank. The data, code, and any additional materials required to replicate all analyses in this article are available on the Political Analysis Dataverse of Harvard University's Dataverse Network at: Supplementary materials for this article are available on the Political Analysis Web site.



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