by Claire Durand, Isabelle Valois and Luis Patricio Peña Ibarra, Department of Sociology, University of Montreal
This article presents the current progress of a research project whose aim is to develop methods to analyze combined micro-data. The most recent papers that were presented (see references) give an insight into the work that has been accomplished to date.
This project was triggered by a preceding project where we aimed at analyzing change in support for Quebec sovereignty over time taking into account that question wordings and specific constitutional choices offered in survey questions varied over time and between surveys. We had identified close to 700 questions asked in polls over a 40-year period. In order to analyze these data, we used a multilevel model where polls were embedded within months. This allowed for analyzing the impact of question characteristics at level 1. Since time itself was at level 2, we could study change in support for sovereignty over time and the impact of events that occurred during each period controlling for question wording and constitutional choices (Yale & Durand, 2011).
This research ended with a frustration. We would have liked to be able to answer questions like whether the impact of age on support for sovereignty was fading over time. This requested combining micro-data, not just poll results. Therefore, we decided to combine data sets in order to be able to answer our research questions. However, instead of maintaining the focus on Quebec sovereignty, the focus was changed to institutional trust.
The first project is Valois’s Trust in Canada which involves combining survey data over a 40-year period; the second and third project started with the objective of combining all the surveys that had questions on trust in institutions everywhere in the world. One project is Durand et al.’s Trust in the World who combined the data from all the Barometers conducted outside Europe and the Latin American Public Opinion Project (LAPOP) surveys; the other one is Peña Ibarra’s Trust in Latin America, which uses a subset of these data to focus on Central and South America plus Mexico. The basic information on the three projects is presented in Table 1.