Assessing the accuracy of life event calendar data in an offender sample

Nikki van Gerwen*, Arjan Blokland, Arieke J. Rijken

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Criminologists are increasingly interested in the effects of life-course dynamics on criminological development. However, detailed longitudinal data are difficult to obtain and possibly confounded due to recall errors. Life Event Calendars (LECs) are designed to reduce recall errors and are increasingly used as a method for obtaining valid retrospective data in criminological studies. Yet few studies exist that assess the accuracy of LEC data in offender samples. This study aims to fill this void. We compare data regarding the prevalence and timing of marriage, divorce, and childbirth obtained through an LEC to official registry data in a sample of convicted offenders. We examine whether the accuracy of the data vary by event or respondent specific characteristics. We conclude that the LEC data are quite accurate regarding the prevalence of marriage, divorce, and childbirth. The data are less accurate regarding the timing of these life events.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)532-566
Number of pages35
JournalJustice Quarterly
Issue number3
Early online date9 Apr 2018
Publication statusPublished - 16 Apr 2019


  • data accuracy
  • Life Event Calendar
  • offender sample
  • self-reported data
  • validity


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