This article contributes to an ongoing debate about how to measure sensitive topics in population surveys. We propose a novel technique that can be applied to the measurement of quantitative sensitive variables: the item sum technique (IST). This method is closely related to the item count technique, which was developed for the measurement of dichotomous sensitive items. First, we provide a description of our new technique and discuss how data collected by the IST can be analyzed. Second, we present the results of a CATI survey on undeclared work in Germany, in which the IST has been applied. Using an experimental design, we compare the IST to direct questioning. Our empirical results indicate that the IST is a promising data-collection technique for sensitive questions. We conclude by discussing the limitations of the new technique and outlining possible improvements for future studies.
A new technique for asking quantitative sensitive questions