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J. Michael Brick

Open access

J. Michael Brick

Abstract

This article reviews unit nonresponse in cross-sectional household surveys, the consequences of the nonresponse on the bias of the estimates, and methods of adjusting for it. We describe the development of models for nonresponse bias and their utility, with particular emphasis on the role of response propensity modeling and its assumptions. The article explores the close connection between data collection protocols, estimation strategies, and the resulting nonresponse bias in the estimates. We conclude with some comments on the current state of the art and the need for future developments that expand our understanding of the response phenomenon.

Open access

J. Michael Brick and Roger Tourangeau

Abstract

Survey researchers have been investigating alternative approaches to reduce data collection costs while mitigating the risk of nonresponse bias or to produce more accurate estimates within the same budget. Responsive or adaptive design has been suggested as one means for doing this. Falling survey response rates and the need to find effective ways of implementing responsive design has focused attention on the relationship between response rates and nonresponse bias. In our article, we re-examine the data compiled by Groves and Peytcheva (2008) in their influential article and show there is an important between-study component of variance in addition to the within-study variance highlighted in the original analysis. We also show that theory implies that raising response rates can help reduce the nonresponse bias on average across the estimates within a study. We then propose a typology of response propensity models that help explain the empirical findings, including the relative weak relationship between nonresponse rates and nonresponse bias. Using these results, we explore when responsive design tools such as switching modes, giving monetary incentives, and increasing the level of effort are likely to be effective. We conclude with some comments on the use of responsive design and weighting to control nonresponse bias.