Nonresponse in the American Time Use Survey: Who is Missing from the Data and How Much Does It Matter?

Katharine G. Abraham, A. Maitland, and S. Bianchi, Public Opinion Quarterly 70(5), 676-703, January .


This article examines nonresponse in a large government survey, the American Time Use Survey (ATUS), which interviews persons in households previously interviewed in the Current Population Survey. The response rate for the 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 article begins with an analysis of the types of nonresponse encountered in the ATUS. Noncontact accounts for roughly 60 percent of ATUS nonresponse, with refusals accounting for roughly 40 percent. We find little support for the hypothesis that busy people are less likely to respond to the ATUS but find 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. When we compare aggregate estimates of time use calculated using the ATUS base weights without any adjustment for nonresponse, estimates calculated using the ATUS final weights with a nonresponse adjustment, and estimates calculated using weights that incorporate our own nonresponse adjustment based on a propensity model, we find some modest differences, but the three sets of estimates are broadly similar. The article ends with suggestions for further research and analysis.

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