IDEAS home Printed from
MyIDEAS: Login to save this paper or follow this series

Non-response in the American Time Use Survey: Who Is Missing from the Data and How Much Does It Matter?

  • Katharine G. Abraham
  • Aaron Maitland
  • Suzanne M. Bianchi

This paper examines non-response in a large government survey. The response rate for the American Time Use Survey (ATUS) has been below 60 percent for the first two years of its existence, raising questions about whether the results can be generalized to the target population. The paper begins with an analysis of the types of non-response encountered in the ATUS. We find that non-contact accounts for roughly 60 percent of ATUS non-response, with refusals accounting for roughly 40 percent. Next, we examine two hypotheses about the causes of this non-response. We find little support for the hypothesis that busy people are less likely to respond to the ATUS, but considerable support for the hypothesis that people who are weakly integrated into their communities are less likely to respond, mostly because they are less likely to be contacted. Finally, we compare aggregate estimates of time use calculated using the ATUS base weights without any adjustment for non-response to estimates calculated using the ATUS final weights with a non-response adjustment and to estimates calculated using weights that incorporate our own non-response adjustments based on a propensity model. While there are some modest differences, the three sets of estimates are broadly similar. The paper ends with a discussion of survey design features, their effect on the types and level of non-response, and the tradeoffs associated with different design choices.

If 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.

File URL:
Download Restriction: no

Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Technical Working Papers with number 0328.

in new window

Date of creation: Sep 2006
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberte:0328
Contact details of provider: Postal: National Bureau of Economic Research, 1050 Massachusetts Avenue Cambridge, MA 02138, U.S.A.
Phone: 617-868-3900
Web page:

More information through EDIRC

References listed on IDEAS
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.:

as in new window
  1. Jeffrey E. Zabel, 1998. "An Analysis of Attrition in the Panel Study of Income Dynamics and the Survey of Income and Program Participation with an Application to a Model of Labor Market Behavior," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 33(2), pages 479-506.
Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

This item is featured on the following reading lists or Wikipedia pages:

  1. Papers and articles using the American Time Use Survey (ATUS)

When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:nbr:nberte:0328. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: ()

If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.

If the full references list an item that is present in RePEc, but the system did not link to it, you can help with this form.

If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

This information is provided to you by IDEAS at the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis using RePEc data.