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Respondent incentives in a multi-mode panel survey: Cumulative effects on nonresponse and bias

Jäckle, A and Lynn, P (2008) 'Respondent incentives in a multi-mode panel survey: Cumulative effects on nonresponse and bias.' Survey Methodology, 34 (1). pp. 105-117. ISSN 0714-0045


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Respondent incentives are increasingly used as a measure of combating falling response rates and resulting risks of nonresponse bias. Nonresponse in panel surveys is particularly problematic, since even low wave-on-wave nonresponse rates can lead to substantial cumulative losses; if nonresponse is differential, this may lead to increasing bias across waves. Although the effects of incentives have been studied extensively in cross-sectional contexts, little is known about cumulative effects across waves of a panel. We provide new evidence about the effects of continued incentive payments on attrition, bias and item nonresponse, using data from a large scale, multi-wave, mixed mode incentive experiment on a UK government panel survey of young people. In this study, incentives significantly reduced attrition, far outweighing negative effects on item response rates in terms of the amount of information collected by the survey per issued case. Incentives had proportionate effects on retention rates across a range of respondent characteristics and as a result did not reduce attrition bias in terms of those characteristics. The effects of incentives on retention rates were larger for unconditional than conditional incentives and larger in postal than telephone mode. Across waves, the effects on attrition decreased somewhat, although the effects on item nonresponse and the lack of effect on bias remained constant. The effects of incentives at later waves appeared to be independent of incentive treatments and mode of data collection at earlier waves.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: attrition; item nonresponse; mail survey; CATI; unconditional incentive; conditional incentive
Subjects: H Social Sciences > H Social Sciences (General)
Divisions: Faculty of Social Sciences
Faculty of Social Sciences > Institute for Social and Economic Research
SWORD Depositor: Elements
Depositing User: Elements
Date Deposited: 19 Jul 2013 15:22
Last Modified: 15 Jan 2022 00:49

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