Support #788

Why so many "inapplicables" when tabulating on two specific variables

Added by John Haskey almost 7 years ago. Updated 6 months ago.

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There are two Tables I've derived from Wave 6 of Understanding Society from which I wish to draw some conclusions - but the number of cases which seem to have to be disregarded is so large that I wonder whether I can draw any conclusions at all from the small number of cases in each of the cells in which I’m interested. The two key questions which are the bases of these Tables are:

1. Likelihood of marrying partner in future, f_ncrr12 ;
2. Intention to live together within three years, f_ncrr11

I've tabulated each of these two variables by age, by sex and by de facto marital status. (I can send these 2 tables as an Excel file - I've tried adding them here but they come out distorted.)

The first table contains 26245 cases which are “inapplicable” – out of a total of 28945 ie 91% of the total.
And the second Table contains the same number of “inapplicables”, but out of a slightly different total of 28939.

I've written the paragraph below (in a paper I've been drafting), based on the data that seemed useable (i.e. was not "inapplicable"): (I've added the sample numbers concerned in brackets)

"In another survey, Understanding Society, respondents who weren’t married were asked the likelihood of marrying their partner. With only small sample numbers representing respondents in England and Wales, around one half of men and women in their forties (for men 30 out of 56; for women 48 out of 101)said it was likely, or very likely, that they would, but, of those aged fifty or over, only about one quarter of men (50 out of 202), and one eighth of women (22 out of 170) , expressed the same degree of likelihood of marrying their partner. Another question asked whether the respondents intended to live together with their partners within three years; just under two thirds of men (61 out of 99) and women in their forties (111 out of 182) replied Yes, but amongst those aged 50 and over, less than one third thought so (for men 84 out of 293; for women 56 out of 243). These tentative results are consistent with rates of marriage and the prevalence of cohabitation declining with older ages, and with cohabitation being considered more likely than marriage."

I would be grateful for your guidance and advice, as I obviously wish to derive accurate results.
Also, I've just heard that the paper has been accepted for publication, so there's all the more reason for checking whether my interpretation is valid.

With many thanks!

John Haskey
Dept of Social Policy and Intervention
University of Oxford


Updated by Gundi Knies over 6 years ago

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Hi John,
these questions are asked only of people who agreed to a self-completion and who are not currently co-habiting but consider themselves to be in a relationship with somebody outside the current household. You can check who gets asked which questions by inspecting the Universe information in the questionnaire, e.g.

Hope this helps,


Updated by Victoria Nolan over 6 years ago

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Updated by Victoria Nolan over 6 years ago

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Updated by Understanding Society User Support Team 6 months ago

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