A discussion which defines retrospective survey data, contrasts it with panel data, provides samples of retrospective data, and recommends use of retrospective surveys in several circumstances. After defining retrospective data as recall data with a reference period that is "too long," the author uses examples to show that retrospective surveys are neither better nor worse in all situations than alternative sources of information. He recommends the use of a retrospective survey in several circumstances: Wherever prospective panel data would be useful, consider whether retrospective data would be useful enough; wherever baseline data are required, consider whether information on the baseline trend would also be useful; and wherever information about the past is needed, but otherwise missing or deficient, consider that it is still possible to get it.
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