Who did you interview and how did you select them?

We interviewed a sample of participants in the forecasting process, including those who try to influence the process, use the forecasts, make proposals to change the Social Security, and comment publicly or privately on the process. Our sample included current or former high and low profile public officials in Congress, the White House, and the Social Security Administration, and including Democrats, Republicans, liberals, conservatives, and those on various advisory boards. We also included some in academia and the private sector. Our design was a stratified sequential quota sample, with strata defined based on their role in the process. The sequential part of the process involved sampling and conducting interviews within each stratum until we heard the same stories and the same points sufficiently often so that we could reliably predict what the next person was going to say when prompted with the same question. We tested this hypothesis, making ourselves vulnerable to being proven wrong, by making predictions and seeing what the next person would say. Of course, each person added more color and detail and information, but at some point the information we gathered about our essential questions reached well past the point of diminishing returns and so we stopped. We found individuals by enumeration and snowball sampling techniques; we were able to find all but a few people we attempted to find, and almost everyone we asked freely gave of their time to speak with us. Part of the reason for this success in reaching people is that we promised confidentiality to each respondent; we did this whether or not they asked for it.

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