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Title: The Effects of a Targeted “Early Bird” Incentive Strategy on Response Rates, Fieldwork Effort, and Costs in a National Panel Study

Adaptive survey designs are increasingly used by survey practitioners to counteract ongoing declines in household survey response rates and manage rising fieldwork costs. This paper reports findings from an evaluation of an early-bird incentive (EBI) experiment targeting high-effort respondents who participate in the 2019 wave of the US Panel Study of Income Dynamics. We identified a subgroup of high-effort respondents at risk of nonresponse based on their prior wave fieldwork effort and randomized them to a treatment offering an extra time-delimited monetary incentive for completing their interview within the first month of data collection (treatment group; N = 800) or the standard study incentive (control group; N = 400). In recent waves, we have found that the costs of the protracted fieldwork needed to complete interviews with high-effort cases in the form of interviewer contact attempts plus an increased incentive near the close of data collection are extremely high. By incentivizing early participation and reducing the number of interviewer contact attempts and fieldwork days to complete the interview, our goal was to manage both nonresponse and survey costs. We found that the EBI treatment increased response rates and reduced fieldwork effort and costs compared to a control group. We review several key findings and limitations, discuss their implications, and identify the next steps for future research.

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Award ID(s):
1623684 2042875
Author(s) / Creator(s):
; ;
Publisher / Repository:
Oxford University Press
Date Published:
Journal Name:
Journal of Survey Statistics and Methodology
Medium: X Size: p. 1032-1053
p. 1032-1053
Sponsoring Org:
National Science Foundation
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