Journal of Official Statistics, Vol.15, No.2, 1999. pp. 231250

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Monetary Incentives in U.S. Government Surveys

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 survey’of 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.

Nonresponse; data quality; response rate.

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