Declining Response Rates in Federal Surveys: Trends and Implications (Background Paper)
Publisher: Washington, DC: Mathematica Policy Research
This report reviews recent assessments of trends in response rates among primarily federal surveys and the reasons for declining response rates; documents response trends in seven major Health and Human Services surveys and the Census Bureau’s Current Population Survey from the mid-1990s through the most recent year available; examines what is known about the relationship between response rates and nonresponse bias; reviews approaches to addressing nonresponse and its effects; and summarizes key conclusions.
- A long-term decline in survey response rates has accelerated in recent years.
- The increase in nonresponse has been much greater in telephone surveys than in face-to-face surveys.
- Response rates are a poor predictor of nonresponse bias, which tends to be item-specific.
- Payment of incentives is the most effective strategy to increase response rates.