Project in detail

Responsive Fieldwork Design in the German sub-study of SHARE

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For the sixth wave of data collection, a responsive fieldwork design was implemented in the German sub-study of SHARE. The aims of this design were, firstly, to improve the overall response rate in the German panel and, secondly, to decrease nonresponse bias. In this respect, responsive designs have been given a lot of attention in the recent survey methodology literature. These designs make use of background information to more efficiently allocate fieldwork resources to specific sample units. SHARE is especially suitable for such a strategy, because it already conducts a high level of fieldwork monitoring, has in place an advanced system to register fieldwork results, and possesses extensive information about the interviewer performance as well as the panel members and their response behavior in previous waves. Against this background, we implemented a responsive monitoring design for the German sub-study that served as a “dashboard” of response probabilities for relevant respondent characteristics during fieldwork. This allowed for immediate feedback to the survey agency and focused actions with regard to specific groups of respondents. Our analyses show that while the responsive measures seem to stimulate the overall response rate, the final wave 6 response probabilities were not more homogenous across respondent groups than in wave 5. The responsive fieldwork design hence did not lead to a reduction in nonresponse bias. . One reason for this is that the largest differences in response probabilities were caused by characteristics that cannot be counteracted during fieldwork, such as old age, poor health and income item nonresponse. Therefore, in the continuation of this project, we will focus on 1) finding the common causes of the income nonresponse in one wave and unit nonresponse in the next wave and 2) tailoring a variety of communication strategies and fieldwork aspects to the different age cohorts in the SHARE panel.

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