Journal of Official Statistics, Vol.22, No.1, 2006. pp. 97112

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An Analysis of the Relationship Between Survey Burden and Nonresponse: If We Bother Them More, Are They Less Cooperative?

In surveys of certain populations, individuals may be contacted on numerous occasions over time. This is particularly true in establishment surveys, where large or unique operations may be selected with near certainty for recurring surveys and are often included in samples for multiple surveys. Cooperation in any particular survey may be affected by cumulative burden imposed by that organization in the past. This article examines the relationships between response to several surveys conducted of United States agricultural operations and the prior survey reporting burden placed on those operations by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS). The results indicate that burden (for example, the number of other NASS surveys operations were contacted for, the length of time since they were last contacted, and the type of information they were contacted for in the past) does not uniformly have a negative effect on survey response. Even in cases where effects were found, they were often small and did not lead to clear-cut strategies for improving survey response.

Accumulated burden, respondent burden, agricultural survey, nonresponse

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