How Social Processes Distort Measurement: The Impact of Survey Nonresponse on Estimates of Volunteer Work
AbstractEstimates of volunteering in the United States vary greatly from survey to survey and do not show the decline over time common to other measures of social capital. We argue that these anomalies are caused by the social processes that determine survey participation, in particular the propensity of people who do volunteer work to respond to surveys at higher rates than those who do not do volunteer work. Thus surveys with lower responses rates will usually have higher proportions of volunteers, and the decline in response rates over time likely has led to increasing overrepresentation of volunteers. We analyze data from the American Time Use Survey (ATUS) -- the sample for which is drawn from Current Population Survey (CPS) respondents -- together with data from the CPS Volunteering Supplement to demonstrate the effects of survey nonresponse on estimates of volunteering activity and its correlates. CPS respondents who become ATUS respondents report much more volunteering in the CPS than those who become ATUS nonrespondents. This difference is replicated within demographic and other subgroups. Consequently, conventional statistical adjustments for nonresponse cannot correct the resulting bias. Although nonresponse leads to estimates of volunteer activity that are too high, it generally does not affect inferences about the characteristics associated with volunteer activity. We discuss the implications of these findings for the study of other phenomena.
Download InfoIf you experience problems downloading a file, check if you have the proper application to view it first. In case of further problems read the IDEAS help page. Note that these files are not on the IDEAS site. Please be patient as the files may be large.
Bibliographic InfoPaper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 14076.
Date of creation: Jun 2008
Date of revision:
Contact details of provider:
Postal: National Bureau of Economic Research, 1050 Massachusetts Avenue Cambridge, MA 02138, U.S.A.
Web page: http://www.nber.org
More information through EDIRC
Find related papers by JEL classification:
- J01 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - General - - - Labor Economics: General
This paper has been announced in the following NEP Reports:
- NEP-ALL-2008-06-13 (All new papers)
- NEP-LAB-2008-06-13 (Labour Economics)
- NEP-SOC-2008-06-13 (Social Norms & Social Capital)
Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:
- Willard G. Manning Jr. & Charles E. Phelps, 1979. "The Demand for Dental Care," Bell Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 10(2), pages 503-525, Autumn.
- Melenberg, B. & Soest, A.H.O. van, 1996.
"Parametric and semi-parametric modelling of vacation expenditures,"
Open Access publications from Tilburg University
urn:nbn:nl:ui:12-72214, Tilburg University.
- Melenberg, Bertrand & van Soest, Arthur, 1996. "Parametric and Semi-parametric Modelling of Vacation Expenditures," Journal of Applied Econometrics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 11(1), pages 59-76, Jan.-Feb..
- Melenberg, B. & Soest, A.H.O. van, 1991. "Parametric and semi-parametric modelling of vacation expenditures," Discussion Paper, Tilburg University, Center for Economic Research 1991-44, Tilburg University, Center for Economic Research.
- Melenberg, B. & Van Soest, A., 1991. "Parametric and Semi-parametric Modelling of Vocation Expenditures," Papers, Tilburg - Center for Economic Research 9144, Tilburg - Center for Economic Research.
- Duan, Naihua, et al, 1983. "A Comparison of Alternative Models for the Demand for Medical Care," Journal of Business & Economic Statistics, American Statistical Association, American Statistical Association, vol. 1(2), pages 115-26, April.
- Katharine G. Abraham & Aaron Maitland & Suzanne M. Bianchi, 2006. "Non-response in the American Time Use Survey: Who Is Missing from the Data and How Much Does It Matter?," NBER Technical Working Papers 0328, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
- Knack, Stephen, 1992. "Civic norms, social sanctions and voting turnout," MPRA Paper 28080, University Library of Munich, Germany.
- Griffin, John & Nickerson, David & Wozniak, Abigail, 2011.
"Racial Differences in Inequality Aversion: Evidence from Real World Respondents in the Ultimatum Game,"
IZA Discussion Papers
5569, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
- Griffin, John & Nickerson, David & Wozniak, Abigail, 2012. "Racial differences in inequality aversion: Evidence from real world respondents in the ultimatum game," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 84(2), pages 600-617.
- John D. Griffin & David Nickerson & Abigail K. Wozniak, 2011. "Racial Differences in Inequality Aversion: Evidence from Real World Respondents in the Ultimatum Game," NBER Working Papers 17097, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
- Freire, Tiago & Li, Xiaoye, 2013.
"How Immigration Reduced Social Capital in the US: 2005-2011,"
44540, University Library of Munich, Germany.
- Tiago Freire & Xiaoye Li, 2013. "How Immigration Reduced Social Capital in the US: 2005-2011," ERSA conference papers ersa13p1285, European Regional Science Association.
For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: ().
If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.