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Response Mode Choice and the Hard-to-Interview in the American Community Survey

Elizabeth Nichols, Rachel Horwitz, and Jennifer Guarino Tancreto


Internet survey, paper form, CATI, CAPI


In 2011, the U.S. Census Bureau designed two experimental tests offering an Internet reporting option in addition to the traditional paper form for the American Community Survey (ACS). An Internet reporting option was offered as a way to maintain or improve self-response, while reducing costs. As part of the first test, a qualitative follow-up interview of both nonrespondents and respondents was conducted to determine what motivated a response and why some did not respond at all.

In this paper, we examine the groups of individuals who have been typically hard-to-interview in the self-response phase of the ACS. Joshipura (2008) found that renters, those with less than a high school education, non-White, and Hispanic respondents are more likely to need an interviewer-assisted interview to complete the ACS. We examine the data from the two tests to determine if those types of respondents were more likely to report using the Internet compared to mail-return response rates. We also examine the qualitative data from the follow-up study for these people to determine why they did not respond.


Elizabeth Nichols, Rachel Horwitz, and Jennifer Guarino Tancreto. (2013). Response Mode Choice and the Hard-to-Interview in the American Community Survey. Center for Statistical Research & Methodology Research Report Series (Survey Methodology #2013-01). U.S. Census Bureau. Available online at <>.

Source: U.S. Census Bureau, Center for Statistical Research & Methodology

Published online: January 17, 2013
Last revised: January 17, 2013


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Source: U.S. Census Bureau | Research and Methodology Directorate | Center for Survey Measurement | (301) 763-3215 (or |   Last Revised: September 11, 2013