Project in detail

Respondent Incentives, Interviewer Training, and Survey Participation

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Survey participation has been declining in Germany and Europe over the past decades. This may harm the reliability of the collected data because the non-participation may not be random. As a consequence, results drawn from these data may be biased since the sample may not be representative of the actual target population. The proposed research project will target this issue from both ends. First, we will investigate how participation in face-to-face interviews can be increased in Germany. The Survey of Health, Ageing, and Retirement in Europe (SHARE) will provide the backbone for a large scale experiment which will be conducted with at least 4,000 individuals. We will examine the effect of unconditional monetary incentives on the respondents’ willingness to participate and thus on the overall survey response rates. In addition, a group of interviewers will receive special training on refusal avoidance (RAT), to test the effectiveness of RAT on response rates. Second, we will conduct a mixed-modes non-response study to quantify the potential non-response bias. The results from this project will enable researchers to more effectively choose between the use of respondent incentives and special interviewer training when conducting surveys. The long term consequences of this particular project are thus important for planned and existing survey projects in countries, where the use of incentives and training has not been thoroughly investigated yet. In addition the actual consequences of non-response will be assessed, which will provide evidence on the extent of non-response bias.

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