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Activity Number: 169 - SPEED:Improving Survey Data Quality with Multiple Data Sources, Administrative Data, and Nonresponse Bias Control
Type: Contributed
Date/Time: Monday, July 29, 2019 : 10:30 AM to 12:20 PM
Sponsor: Survey Research Methods Section
Abstract #304714 Presentation
Title: Effect of Monetary Incentives on Response Rates and Data Quality in a Survey of the U.S. Military
Author(s): David McGrath*
Companies: Department of Defense (DOD)
Keywords: Incentive; Survey; Nonresponse; Military

The Department of Defense Office of People Analytics (OPA) has observed that response rates to OPA Web surveys have declined from about 40% to 15% over the last 15 years. Due to the high risk of nonresponse bias in OPA survey estimates, we conducted a randomized experiment to test the effect of $2 and $5 monetary incentives against a no-incentive control group within strata. OPA’s contractor mailed cash incentives with the advance notification for the survey. As expected, the incentive had a positive impact on response rates within all Services and Paygrade groups. While response rates for the $5 group were consistently higher than the $2 group, most of the positive effect came from the $2 treatment group versus the no-incentive control group. The incentive effects were large in terms of percent increase (i.e., 16 to 39 percent); however, due to the low baseline (no incentive) response rate the number of percentage point increase is only modest. OPA recommends a future incentive experiment contrast a $1 vs. $2 incentive to find the smallest value that produces the desired positive response rate effects.

Authors who are presenting talks have a * after their name.

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