, Volume 51, Issue 1, pp 277–285 | Cite as

Challenges in Measuring the Sequencing of Life Events Among Adolescents in Malawi: A Cautionary Note

  • Barbara S. MenschEmail author
  • Erica Soler-Hampejsek
  • Christine A. Kelly
  • Paul C. Hewett
  • Monica J. Grant


Using data from two rounds of the Malawi Schooling and Adolescent Survey, this research note examines consistency of retrospective reporting on the timing and sequencing of sexual initiation, school leaving, and marriage. The analysis, which compares reporting of events both within and between rounds, indicates substantial inconsistency in reporting of event sequences and highlights difficulties in measuring transitions to adulthood in sub-Saharan Africa with survey data.


Transitions to adulthood Longitudinal data Inconsistency of self-reports Malawi Sub-Saharan Africa 



This research was supported by grants from the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (R01HD047764 and R01HD062155) and the William and Flora Hewlett, James D. and Catherine T. MacArthur, and Spencer Foundations. We thank Johanna Rankin for her assistance on all aspects of the MSAS project, Ann Biddlecom for her contribution to the development of the life event cards, Patrick Makhuva and Baxter Nyirenda for their assistance with the data collection, and all the interviewers and supervisors in Malawi, as well as Michael Vosika for his work on figures. Finally, we thank Joseph Chimombo for his guidance and Barbara Miller for her many contributions to this project. The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the funding institutions.


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Copyright information

© Population Association of America 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Barbara S. Mensch
    • 1
    Email author
  • Erica Soler-Hampejsek
    • 1
  • Christine A. Kelly
    • 1
  • Paul C. Hewett
    • 2
  • Monica J. Grant
    • 3
  1. 1.Population CouncilNew YorkUSA
  2. 2.Population CouncilLusakaZambia
  3. 3.Department of SociologyUniversity of Wisconsin–MadisonMadisonUSA

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