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The Data That Did Not Arrive For The Date: Talking The Non-Response Blues

Presenter 1
Karsten Boye Rasmussen
University of Southern Denmark

We have the exact formulas for computing sample errors when performing surveys with probability sampling. Most social scientists can recite some practical heuristics to the tune of if you have about 1000 questionnaires your error rate will be close to +/- 3 per cent. The precision of the actual calculations have vanished from memory, but some parts of the sampling theory are sufficiently sticky. However, the true and sad story is that the precision delivered by statisticians is unnecessary as the plausible error of nonresponse is momentous compared to the sample error even in surveys considered to have high response rates. Argumentation to diminish the effect of nonresponse is sought in methods like comparison with known values for the population and extrapolation in time for the nonresponse. The focus will be on the lightweight and insufficiency of the argumentation obtained by these methods. The presentation will demonstrate nonresponse through preliminary results from a data collection of companies using mailed out business survey, repeated phone reminding procedures with note taking, information obtained from valid registers, and special information evaluating the presence of the company. I'll be in your survey if you'll be in mine.

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