The Second Malaysian Family Life Survey

Quality of Retrospective Data for the New Sample

by Jeffrey Sine, Christine E. Peterson

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The Second Malaysian Family Life Survey (MFLS-2) was fielded in late 1988 as a follow-on to the 1976-77 (MFLS-1). Quality of data from the Female Life History questionnaire (MF22) is assessed in this report. There was an increasing trend over time in the reported age at first marriage, but the proportion of MF22 respondents reporting themselves to have ever been married was higher compared to other data sources. This may have resulted from sampling only private households and a resultant underrepresentation of single women. No evidence of underreporting of live births was found. Fertility rates appear to be too high; marital fertility rates are more accurate. This may also be related to the underrepresentation of single women in the sampling frame. Infant mortality rates follow the expected pattern, declining substantially over time, and data on age at infant deaths was assessed to be good. Fetal mortality events appear to have been underreported, as is the case in most retrospective surveys. Exact birthweights were reported for over 90 percent of births to MF22 respondents; the distribution of these birthweights follows the expected pattern. Contraceptive data compared well to similar data from other sources. Trends and patterns in breastfeeding were as expected, though a strong digit preference in duration reporting was noted.

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