Respondent Heaping of the Counts of Lifetime Sex Partners, Males and Females, United States and China

Chris Cherry, Texas A&M University
Dudley L. Poston, Jr., Texas A&M University

Demographic analyses using survey data are only as good as the data themselves. This is especially important with regard to data dealing with sensitive and/or private issues, such as sexual activity. This paper is an evaluation of data on the number of self-reported lifetime sexual partners (LSPs). We use several datasets to examine the extent of “count heaping” of males and females self-reporting their number of LSPs. We find a definite tendency to heap counts of LSPs at digits ending in 0 and in 5. We develop a Whipple’s type measure of sex partner heaping and apply it to datasets from the U.S. and China to evaluate the amount of count heaping of opposite-sex and same-sex partners. We then suggest one way to correct the partner count data for heaping so they may be more reliably used as independent and dependent variables in demographic studies.

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Presented in Poster Session 2