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Activity Number: 499
Type: Contributed
Date/Time: Wednesday, August 7, 2013 : 8:30 AM to 10:20 AM
Sponsor: Survey Research Methods Section
Abstract - #308173
Title: Response Rates Revisited
Author(s): Barbara Lepidus Carlson*+
Companies: Mathematica Policy Research
Keywords: response rate ; eligibility rate ; complex samples ; standards

Response rates are an important indicator of survey quality and the potential for nonresponse bias. Until the American Association for Public Opinion Research (AAPOR) developed a standard definition for response rates in 1998, the survey research community used different formulas or rules to calculate them. By having a set of industry standards, response rates became easier to interpret and to compare across surveys. While this was a major improvement, the response rates (essentially one formula with six variations) were overly simplistic in terms of how they dealt with eligibility rates for those with undetermined status. The AAPOR standards give some guidance on computing the eligibility rate and applying the response rate formulas to more complex samples. This paper provides additional guidance and examples for estimating the eligibility rate, implementing the response rate formulas in complex samples, and applying multiple eligibility rates when eligibility is nested. This paper also provides alternative but algebraically equivalent response rate formulas for one-, two-, and three-stage samples, some of which may be easier to interpret or implement than the AAPOR versions.

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