Understanding and improving response rates

English title: Understanding and improving response rates

Author(s): Jaak Billiet - Achim Koch - Michel Phillippens -

Language: English

Type: Book chapter

Year: 2007

Abstract

In cross-national surveys in particular, nonresponse can threaten the validity of comparisons between countries. This chapter focuses on the measures that are introduced in the ESS both to reduce nonresponse and to derive information about nonresponse. There exist clearly prescribed contact procedures for ESS. Nonetheless, there is some variation in the way the different countries have applied the fieldwork. It is shown by the analysis that adopting the prescribed contact procedures actually do result in a higher response rate. On the other hand, there also appears to be country differences in contactibility, so that what is considerd to be an optimal fieldwork startegy in one country might turn out to be sub-optimal in another. This means that fieldwork startegy should be adapted to country-specific characteristics. Concerning refusal conversion, the prescriptions by ESS were more vague, and a lot of variation between the countries is found. In general, the impact of refusal conversion strategies is rather small, but much depends on the strategy used. To learn about the response bias, the distinction was made between cooperative respondents, converted 'soft refusals', and converted 'hard refusals' - based on how easily they agreed to participate in the survey. The assumption was made that the views and characteristics of reluctant respondents would more closely resemble the views and characteristics of those who refused finally. The analysis partially confirmed the expectation that the converted respondents socially participated less then the cooperative respondents. Though, when controlling for socio-demographic variables, these effects weakened or disappeared. Moreover, the relationship was not uniform across countries. Unfortunately, refusal conversion attempts where overall still very limited, which makes a low number of converted refusals to use in the analysis. Secondly, there is discussion about whether reluctant respondents indeed are more similar to converted refusals with regard to views and characteristics.

From page no: 107

To page no: 129

Anthology: Measuring Attitudes Cross-Nationally: Lessons from the European Social Survey

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