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Evaluating the Decennial Census Call-in Option: Results from an Interviewer Debriefing of the 2016 Census Test

Working Paper Number RSM2018-04
Elizabeth M. Nichols, Erica L. Olmsted-Hawala
Component ID: #ti660299193

Abstract

In 2016, the U.S. Census Bureau conducted the 2016 Census Test. Sample households could report online, by paper, or call a toll-free number and report their data over the telephone with a Census Bureau interviewer. Interviewers used an online instrument to administer the questions and record the answers respondents gave. This online instrument was similar to the one available to respondents who wanted to report online without any interviewer assistance.  

This report documents the findings from interviewer debriefings about the call-in operation. Interviewers who participated in the debriefings had taken calls for both the 2016 Census Test, and the prior census test, called the 2015 National Content Test which was conducted eight months earlier. The discussion during the debriefings focused on the online instrument used during the 2016 call-in operation and whether the instrument had improved since the 2015 National Content Test. According to these interviewers, the instrument had improved. Interviewers found the questions to collect the names of the people living at the household less burdensome than the ones used in 2015. Interviewers appreciated using one question to collect race and Hispanic origin instead of separate questions to collect that information. They also liked the design of the 2016 instrument with the ability to quickly navigate between people. Other suggestions to further improve the interview for a telephone mode were also made. The main suggestions were to provide information about re-entering the survey only if the respondent wants to end the survey prematurely and to allow respondents to report on the status and occupancy of other residences where they are caretakers.

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