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Unwillingness to Reveal Person Information to other Household Members and its Relationship to Subsequent Survey Nonresponse in a Longitudinal Panel Survey

Anna Y. Chan and Jeffrey C. Moore

KEY WORDS: privacy and confidentiality concerns, survey nonresponse


The U.S. Census Bureau recently established the Respondent Identification Policy (RIP) to extend confidentiality protections so that they apply within a respondent’s household as well as to the world outside the household. The new policy prohibits the disclosure of a respondent’s answers to other household members unless the original respondent gives consent to such disclosure. In a longitudinal survey, failure to obtain such consent at the preceding interview could restrict the use of dependent interviewing procedures if the respondent for the subsequent interview is not the same respondent who provided the information in the preceding interview wave.

Previous research has shown that respondents’ privacy and confidentiality concerns are related to their survey response behavior (e.g. Singer, Mathiowetz, and Couper 1993; Singer, Hoewyk, and Neugebauer 2003). It is a reasonable conjecture that a person’s reluctance to consent to information sharing with other household members offers some evidence with regard to his or her level of concern about privacy and confidentiality. Using data form the Survey of Income and Program Participation (SIPP) 2004 Panel, this paper examines the relationship between respondents’ confidentially concern, as indicated by their response to the RIP disclosure request, and behavioral indicators of confidentially concern, such as the failure to provide Social Security Number, and nonresponse to income questions. It also explores the relationship between respondents’ responses to the RIP disclosure request and their participation in the subsequent interview wave. If the research hypothesis is supported, that is, confidentiality concern is related to survey response behavior, then response to the RIP disclosure request may serve as a useful predictor of cases requiring special intervention to prevent nonresponse in the future interviews.

CITATION:Chan, Anna Y. and Jeffrey C. Moore. 2006. “Unwillingness to Share Information with Household Members and its Relationship to Subsequent survey Participation in a Longitudinal Panel Survey.” 2006, Proceedings of the Survey Research Methods Section, Alexandria, VA: American Statistical Association/Mira Digital Publishing, CD-ROM, pp. 4074-4081.

Source: U.S. Census Bureau, Statistical Research Division

Created: June 13, 2007
Last revised: June 13, 2007

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Source: U.S. Census Bureau | Statistical Research Division | (301) 763-3215 (or |   Last Revised: October 08, 2010