• Presentation

Using Monetary Interviewer Incentives: Is it All About Timing?


Wallin, J., Kowalski, A. V., Sherburne, C. A., Considine, K. A., & Bibb, B. S. (2009, May). Using Monetary Interviewer Incentives: Is it All About Timing?. Presented at IFD&TC 2009, .


In recent years, survey researchers have been faced with declining response rates. Efforts to improve response rates vary but often include the use of incentives for the interviewers. Using incentives can motivate interviewers to work hard to enhance their own response rates and also have the potential to improve the level of production and cost efficiency of field interviewers.

With two recently completed national longitudinal field studies as the basis for our observations, we will explore the impact of interviewer incentives on response rates. The two studies are The National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health (Add Health) and the UNC Renters and Homeowners Study. Add Health is a longitudinal study of about 20,000 young adults in its fourth wave. The UNC Renters and Homeowners Study is a 5-year panel study of 3,883 low-to-moderate income homeowners and renters. Both studies used interviewer incentives during data collection to enhance their response rates and reward high performing field interviewers. The two studies differed in their approach to using interviewer incentives, particularly the time at which they were introduced during the field period. The Add Health Study introduced the use of interviewer incentives towards the end of data collection to boost production rates and retain field staff, whereas the UNC Renters and Homeowners Study used interviewer incentives at the start of data collection when interviewers had brand new cases.

Both studies will be reviewed as case study examples to discuss the use of monetary interviewer incentives. In addition, we will consider other design differences between the two studies that may affect interviewer performance measures. This presentation will comment on the preparation and planning that a researcher should anticipate when utilizing interviewer incentives to increase production rates and boost interviewer morale. The presentation will also discuss the benefits and drawbacks of using interviewer incentives and whether their effectiveness is impacted by the time at which they are implemented during the field period. The timing for when interviewer incentives are launched has the potential to shorten the length of the field period and ultimately affect the budget.