Journal of Official Statistics, Vol.15, No.2, 1999. pp. 231–250
Monetary Incentives in U.S. Government Surveys
Carolyn Shettle and Geraldine Mooney
Abstract:In this article we examine the impacts of using a monetary incentive in a government
mail survey on the following factors: (1) Response Rate; (2) Nonresponse Bias; (3) Data
Quality; (4) Indicators of Respondents' Views of Incentives; and (5) Cost-effectiveness.
The article contrasts two experimental groups differing only in terms of whether sample
members received a small (5.00 USD) monetary incentive in the first mailing of a lengthy
mail surveyof moderate saliency. On the basis of the information in this study and
the literature reviewed, the authors conclude that incentives can provide a cost-effective
survey tool for use in government surveys when moderately high response rates are needed.
Small monetary incentives in government surveys do not appear to increase nonresponse
bias, decrease data quality, or create respondent ill will.
Keywords:Nonresponse; data quality; response rate.
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