Novometric Comparison of Markov Transition Matrices for Heterogeneous Populations

Paul R. Yarnold

Optimal Data Analysis, LLC

The American National Election Panel Study modeled transitions in social class (Working versus Middle) identification occurring between 1956, 1958, and 1960, and although a first-order Markov model was judged unsatisfactory, insufficient measurements were available to validate higher-order models. The sample was thus stratified with respect to whether respondents’ perceived their financial condition to have worsened or improved between data collection waves, in order to “…significantly decrease within-strata and increase between-strata heterogeneity of transition rates”. The probability of working class identification in 1958 was hypothesized to be greatest for respondents who “…felt their financial status declined, identification in 1956 held constant”, and was confirmed by visual examination. Non-directional omnibus chi-square analysis showed “stratification of the sample by perceived financial change (yielded) significantly different transition matrices” (chi-square=14.9, df=2, p<0.01). In contrast, novometric analysis found social class identification in 1958 was predicted by social class identification in 1956, and not by perceived financial status.

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