Tuesday, December 30, 2008

More on Japan

The Japan Family Planning Association is hard at work generating new knowledge. This NYT piece describes their "informal survey" of sexual behavior in Japan.

Several bits deserve note. First, the NYT at least, unlike Reuters, shares a bit about the sampling procedure and response rate:
For the survey, the association randomly handed out forms to about 2,700 people and received responses from 636 men and 773 women.
So, the survey was randomly "handed out", whatever that might mean. One envisions an intense Japanese demographer offering surveys to individuals at a train station, but "at random" of course. The response rate of 1409 out of 2700 is just over 50 percent, which seems high for the train station scenario but is low for a serious phone or in-person survey.

Second, missing from the article in the NYT is any discussion of how the researchers handled, if they did at all, concerns about the veracity of responses to sensitive questions. The folks who did the national sex study spent a lot of time and effort on this. Maybe the Japanese Family Planning Association did too, or maybe the did not. One suspects the latter.

Third, the author passes along without comment or caveat this causal claim:
“The situation is dismal,” said Kunio Kitamura, the association’s director. “My research shows that if you don’t have sex for a month, you probably won’t for a year.”
Fourth, there is no information on publication or even information on a website from which to obtain the actual study. The JFPA homepage is here; there does not appear to be an English language version, so there is now real way for the reader (or, presumably, the NYT reporter or editor) to check the veracity of the AP report that they pass along.

Remind me, again, why people think the NYT is such a great paper?