Can a responsive fieldwork design increase response rates and decrease response bias in the Survey of Health, Ageing and Retirement in Europe (SHARE)?
Jul 27, 11:00
The Survey of Health, Ageing and Retirement in Europe (SHARE) is a multidisciplinary and cross-national face-to face panel study of the process of population ageing. For the sixth wave of data collection, a responsive fieldwork design was implemented in the German sub-study of SHARE. The aims of this design were, firstly, to improve the overall response rate in the German panel that was considerable lower than in other countries and, secondly, to decrease nonresponse bias. In this respect, responsive designs have been given a lot of attention in the recent survey methodology literature. These designs make use of background information to more efficiently allocate fieldwork resources to specific sample units. SHARE is especially suitable for such a strategy, because it already conducts a high level of fieldwork monitoring, has in place an advanced system to register fieldwork results, and possesses extensive information about the interviewer performance as well as the panel members and their response behavior in previous waves. Against this background, we implemented a responsive monitoring design for the German sub-study that served as a “dashboard” of response probabilities for relevant respondent characteristics during fieldwork. This allowed for immediate feedback to the survey agency and focused actions with regard to specific groups of respondents. Our analyses show that while the responsive measures seem to stimulate the overall response rate, the final wave 6 response probabilities were not more homogenous across respondent groups than in wave 5. Based on these results, we evaluate the effectiveness of such a design with respect to data quality as well as nonresponse bias for different groups of panel members and give practical advises for researchers in directing their efforts by using this kind of additional information.