The Effects of an Incentive Boost on Response Rates, Fieldwork Effort, and Costs across Two Waves of a Panel Study

Katherine A. McGonagle


This paper describes the association between an incentive boost and data collection outcomes across two waves of a long-running panel study. In a recent wave, with the aim of achieving response rate goals, all remaining sample members were offered a substantial incentive increase in the final weeks of data collection, despite uncertainty about potential effects on fieldwork outcomes in the following wave. The analyses examine response rates and the average number of interviewer attempts to complete the interview in the waves during and after the incentive boost, and provide an estimate of the cost of the incentives and fieldwork in the waves during and following the boost. The findings provide suggestive evidence that the use of variable incentive strategies from one wave to the next in the context of an ongoing panel study may be an effective strategy to reduce nonresponse and may yield enduring positive effects on subsequent data collection outcomes.


data collection, incentives, nonresponse, response rate, contact strategies, fieldwork effort, panel study

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Copyright (c) 2020 Katherine A. McGonagle

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