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Individual and Neighborhood Determinants of Survey Nonresponse: An Analysis Based on a New Subsample of the German Socio-Economic Panel (SOEP), Microgeographic Characteristics and Survey-Based Interviewer Characteristics


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  • Jörg-Peter Schräpler
  • Jürgen Schupp
  • Gert G. Wagner


This study examines the phenomenon of nonresponse in the first wave of a refresher sample (subsample H) of the German Socio-Economic Panel Study (SOEP). Our first step is to link additional (commercial) microgeographic data on the immediate neighborhoods of the households visited by interviewers. These additional data (paradata) provide valuable information on respondents and nonrespondents, including milieu or lifestyle, dominant household structure, desire for anonymity, frequency of moves, and other important microgeographic information. This linked information is then used to analyze nonresponse. In a second step, we also use demographic variables for the interviewer from an administrative data set about the interviewers, and, in a third step, we use the results of a special interviewer survey. We use multilevel statistical modeling to examine the influence of neighborhoods and interviewers on non-contacts, inability to participate, and refusals. In our analysis, we find our additional variables useful for understanding and explaining non-contacts and refusals and the inability of some respondents to participate in surveys. These data provide an important basis for filling the information gap on response and nonresponse in panel surveys (and in cross-sectional surveys). However, the effect sizes of these effects are negligible. Ignoring these effects does not cause significant biases in statistical inferences drawn from the survey under consideration.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by DIW Berlin, The German Socio-Economic Panel (SOEP) in its series SOEPpapers on Multidisciplinary Panel Data Research with number 288.

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Length: 45 p.
Date of creation: 2010
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:diw:diwsop:diw_sp288

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Keywords: Nonresponse; interviewer effects; microgeographic data; multilevel modeling; SOEP;

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  1. Gert G. Wagner & Joachim R. Frick & Jürgen Schupp, 2007. "The German Socio-Economic Panel Study (SOEP): Scope, Evolution and Enhancements," SOEPpapers on Multidisciplinary Panel Data Research 1, DIW Berlin, The German Socio-Economic Panel (SOEP).
  2. Gundi Knies & C. Katharina Spieß, 2007. "Regional Data in the German Socio-Economic Panel Study (SOEP)," Data Documentation 17, DIW Berlin, German Institute for Economic Research.
  3. Jörg-Peter Schräpler, 2006. "Explaining Income Nonresponse – A Case Study by means of the British Household Panel Study (BHPS)," Quality & Quantity: International Journal of Methodology, Springer, Springer, vol. 40(6), pages 1013-1036, December.
  4. F. Kreuter & K. Olson & J. Wagner & T. Yan & T. M. Ezzati-Rice & C. Casas-Cordero & M. Lemay & A. Peytchev & R. M. Groves & T. E. Raghunathan, 2010. "Using proxy measures and other correlates of survey outcomes to adjust for non-response: examples from multiple surveys," Journal of the Royal Statistical Society Series A, Royal Statistical Society, Royal Statistical Society, vol. 173(2), pages 389-407.
  5. Peter Hintze & Tobia Lakes, 2009. "Geographically Referenced Data in Social Science: A Service Paper for SOEP Data Users," Data Documentation 46, DIW Berlin, German Institute for Economic Research.
  6. Jörg-Peter Schräpler, 2002. "Respondent Behavior in Panel Studies: A Case Study for Income-Nonresponse by Means of the German Socio-Economic Panel (GSOEP)," Discussion Papers of DIW Berlin 299, DIW Berlin, German Institute for Economic Research.
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Cited by:
  1. Jürgen Schupp & Joachim R. Frick, 2010. "Multidisciplinary Household Panel Studies under Academic Direction," Working Paper Series of the German Council for Social and Economic Data, German Council for Social and Economic Data (RatSWD) 140, German Council for Social and Economic Data (RatSWD).
  2. Adrian Chadi, 2014. "Dissatisfied with Life or with Being Interviewed? Happiness and Motivation to Participate in a Survey," IAAEU Discussion Papers, Institute of Labour Law and Industrial Relations in the European Union (IAAEU) 201403, Institute of Labour Law and Industrial Relations in the European Union (IAAEU).


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