Journal of Official Statistics, Vol.15, No.2, 1999. pp. 143166

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Causes and Effects of Nonparticipation in a Child Support Survey

This study uses the child support payment behavior of divorced nonresident fathers as a case study to examine two topics: the causes of survey nonparticipation and the effects of nonparticipation on survey estimates. This analysis includes 893 fathers who filed for divorce in Wisconsin between 1986 and 1988. The results suggest that nonresponding fathers differ from responding fathers not only in the amount of child support paid but also in several other ways. Moreover, factors that predict whether fathers will be located differ from factors that predict whether located fathers will participate in the survey. Characteristics that are associated with mobility, such as home ownership, predict location but not participation. We find significant negative correlations between the errors in the location and payment equations, and between the participation and payment equations. But the exclusion of unlocated fathers and nonparticipating fathers does not substantially change either the direction or the magnitude of the effects of factors predicting child support payments.

Unit nonresponse; nonresponse errors; nonresident fathers; selection bias

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