The notion of respondent contact burden in sample surveys is defined, and a multi-stage process to develop policies for curtailing nonresponse follow-up is described with the goal of reducing this burden on prospective survey respondents. The method depends on contact history paradata containing information about contact attempts both for respondents and for sampled nonrespondents. By analysis of past data, policies to stop case follow-up based on control variables measured in paradata can be developed by calculating propensities to respond for paradata-defined subgroups of sampled cases. Competing policies can be assessed by comparing outcomes (lost interviews, numbers of contacts, patterns of reluctant participation, or refusal to participate) as if these stopping policies had been followed in past data. Finally, embedded survey experiments may be used to assess contact-burden reduction policies when these are implemented in the field. The multi-stage method described here abstracts the stages followed in a series of research studies aimed at reducing contact burden in the Computer Assisted Telephone Interview (CATI) and Computer Assisted Personal Interview (CAPI) modes of the American Community Survey (ACS), which culminated in implementation of policy changes in the ACS.
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