Falling Response Rates to Social Surveys: Challenges, Implications and Solutions for Policy and Business
A Congressional Briefing on social surveys and statistics (American Academy of Political and Social Science)
Federally sponsored surveys such as the American Community Survey, the National Survey of Child Health and the Panel Study of Income Dynamics tell us who we are as a nation. They help policymakers and business owners make informed decisions every day. Unfortunately, response rates to such surveys have been declining, putting the validity of survey research into question. As Congress prepares to consider funding for vital Census Bureau programs in the next fiscal year, and in light of last year’s House vote to eliminate funding altogether for the American Community Survey, last month The American Academy of Political and Social Science (AAPSS) put together a Congressional Briefing on the impact of falling response rates to social surveys and what can be done about it.
This briefing was an opportunity to review the state of survey research and its role in the federal statistical system, assess the nonresponse challenge to major social surveys, discuss alternate approaches for providing more reliable data at less cost, and review ways Congress can help address this problem. AAPSS was pleased to host this important discussion around surveys and their recent report, The Nonresponse Challenge to Surveys and Statistics.
The briefing was sponsored by the American Academy of Political and Social Science, the Annie E. Casey Foundation, the National Academies’ Committee on National Statistics, SAGE and the Russell Sage Foundation.
Read more about the event Partners
Download the Agenda
Find further materials from the event here:
- Promising Approaches to Gathering Data For Policy Makers, Business and the Public
- Paul Emrath on Behalf of the National Association of Home Builders: Impact of Falling Response Rates to Social Surveys and What Can Be Done
- Where Do We Go from Here? Conclusions
We also hope to make a video of the briefing available soon.
PAUL EMRATH is Vice President for Survey and Housing Policy Research at the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) where he heads NAHB’s Survey and Housing Policy Departments. His Housing Policy Department conducts a number of regular, periodic surveys—such as the monthly survey that generates the widely cited NAHB/Wells Fargo Housing Market Index—as well as special surveys on topics like home buyer preferences. His Housing Policy Department conducts a broad range of policy-related research, such as estimating the economic impact of home building and analyzing proposed legislative and regulatory changes. He also participated in the development of the new Rental Housing Finance Survey and has advised the Census Bureau on tabulating housing data from the decennial Census and American Community Survey. Previously, Dr. Emrath worked for NAHB as Housing Policy Analyst (1992-1994), Director of Survey Analysis (1994-1995), Senior Economist (1995-1999), Regulatory Economist (1999-2001) and Assistant Vice President (2001-2009). Prior to joining NAHB, he taught economic theory and statistics at the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh for four years. His Ph.D. is in Economics from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.
DOUGLAS S. MASSEY is the Henry G. Bryant Professor of Sociology and Public Affairs at Princeton University, where he teaches in the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs, the Department of Sociology, the Program in Latin American Studies, the Program in African American Studies and the Urban Studies Program. He has served on the faculties of the University of Chicago and the University of Pennsylvania. His research focuses on international migration, race and housing, discrimination, education, urban poverty and Latin America, especially Mexico. In addition to serving as President of the American Academy of Political and Social Science, he is Past-President of the American Sociological Association and the Population Association of America.
DAVID MCMILLEN served as a professional staff member for the Senate Governmental Affairs Committee and the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee. He worked on a broad range of information policy issues covering the collection, dissemination and preservation of government information. His legislative work included the Paperwork Reduction Act, the E-Government Act, the Electronic Freedom of Information Act and government organization issues including the consolidation of federal statistical agencies and the creation of the Homeland Security Agency. In the Senate, he authored the language that created the Bureau of Transportation Statistics. In the House, he authored several bills on the federal statistical system and the decennial census. Prior to working for Congress, Dr. McMillen worked at the Census Bureau where he helped develop a macro-economic/demographic model for population projection, and was part of the management team that initiated the Survey of Income and Program Participation-a longitudinal survey of households. Dr. McMillen received his Ph.D. in Applied Social Statistics from the University of Illinois-Urbana/Champaign.
CLARENCE PAGE, the 1989 Pulitzer Prize winner for Commentary, is a columnist syndicated nationally by Tribune Media Services and a member of the Chicago Tribune’s editorial board. Page is also a regular contributor of essays to The News Hour with Jim Lehrer and has been a regular on The McLaughlin Group, NBC’s The Chris Matthews Show, ABC’s Nightline and BET’s Lead Story news panel programs.
KENNETH PREWITT is the Carnegie Professor of Public Affairs and Vice-President for Global Centers, Columbia University. Previous positions he has held are: Director of the U.S. Census Bureau, President of the Social Science Research Council, Senior Vice President of the Rockefeller Foundation, Director of the National Opinion Research Center and Professor at the University of Chicago. His current professional Boards and Committees include the National Academies’ Standing Committee on Social Science Evidence for Use (chair) and The State of the USA (Vice-Chairman).
ROGER TOURANGEAU is a vice president at Westat. Before coming to Westat, he was Research Professor at the University of Michigan’s Survey Research Center and the Director of the Joint Program in Survey Methodology at the University of Maryland. He has been a survey researcher for more than 30 years.