Experiments with Methods to Reduce Attrition in Longitudinal Surveys

Researchers at the Institute for Social and Economic Research (ISER) have just published a Working Paper called Experiments with Methods to Reduce Attrition in Longitudinal Surveys. (http://www.iser.essex.ac.uk/publications/working-papers/iser/2010-04.pdf)

Laura Fumagalli, Heather Laurie and Peter Lynn carried out experimental tests of alternative methods to encourage response in surveys that interview the same persons or households repeatedly over time. Using the British Household Panel Survey for 2007 they carried out an experiment aimed at:

  1. testing different methods for getting people to respond although they move house (between-wave contact experiment)
  2. testing the effectiveness of tailoring the content of between wave respondent report mailings in order to stimulate interest, loyalty and cooperation (tailored material experiment).
The researchers found that the Change of Address card was the most effective strategy in collecting information on change of address; reducing the number of cases left untraced at the following wave and lowering the number of attempts interviewers have to make to contact respondents. They also found that the amount of the incentive plays a limited role in reducing the number of those who do not respond, thus suggesting that it is probably more important to focus on the incentive strategy used rather than on the associated amount.

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