Practical implications of nonresponse bias in sample surveys : a thesis presented in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Business Studies at Massey University

Thumbnail Image
Open Access Location
Journal Title
Journal ISSN
Volume Title
Massey University
The Author
Researchers world-wide are concerned about a decline in survey response rates. One consequence of such a decline is the potential for increasing nonresponse bias. This research reports the results of an attempt to establish a tentative 'minimum acceptable response rate' at which the interim estimates for two surveys did not differ significantly from final estimates. Data from a mail survey with a sample of 1270 respondents randomly selected from New Zealand electoral rolls, and from a telephone survey with a sample of 183 respondents randomly selected from five telephone directories were used for the research. The results indicate that a tentative 'minimum acceptable response rate' may be close to 50%. The study found that, at a response rate of 48%, demographic and awareness variables were prone to nonresponse bias in the telephone survey, and that altitude and demographic variables had a very low potential for nonresponse bias in the mail survey at a response rate of 51%. Perhaps researchers can now be more confident that a response rate close to 50% is acceptable for many practical purposes. Ultimately, however, the potential for nonresponse bias in a particular survey will depend on the demographic characteristics of respondents and nonrespondents and the strength of the relationship between these characteristics and the key variables of interest.
New Zealand, Mail surveys, Telephone surveys, Response rate