|Measuring life course events and life histories
|Year of Publication
|Smith, J, Hu, M, Lee, H
|Ferraro, KF, Carr, D
|Handbook of Aging and the Social Sciences (Ninth Edition)Handbooks of Aging
|calendar interview methods, Life event inventories, methodological issues, report accuracy, retrospective life histories, Sequence analysis
Whereas some life events are considered potential sources of stress, others are viewed as markers of interconnected life course transitions and processes. In this chapter, we first review the theoretical roots of measures of life events and discuss longstanding methodological critiques regarding the categorization of life events and factors associated with the reliability and validity of reports. We then review calendar interview methods that employ an Event (or Life) History Calendar approach to collect timeline data. These methods, based on cognitive theories of autobiographical memory, are designed to facilitate retrospective recall of thematic temporal sequences of personal memories. We describe the challenges of collecting retrospective life histories in studies of older adults, strategies used to evaluate the veracity of retrospective life history recall, and summarize recent analytic methods that examine the heterogeneity and dynamics of domain-specific and cross-domain timing and sequencing of transitions and events in the lives of individuals.