Desirable and Undesirable Effects of Monetary Incentives in Mail Surveys

Sven Stadtmüller


Prepaid monetary incentives in mail surveys have a positive impact by raising response rates, as several studies suggest. From a theoretical point of view, however, there are also some other effects which may be evoked by their usage. This includes impact on the response speed and on the composition of the realized sample. Furthermore, data quality and the respondents’ evaluation of the interview may also be influenced. A mail survey which was conducted in the German federal state of Hesse and which focused on the topic of demographic change is used to examine these possible, partly undesirable, effects. The results are rather encouraging for researchers who intend to work with monetary incentives in their survey: These incentives save both time and money by increasing the response rate and accelerating the response speed. On the other hand, there are no indications that any undesirable effects go along with the use of monetary incentives.

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Copyright (c) 2016 Sven Stadtmüller

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