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Many studies have attempted to determine if there is a difference between respondents and nonrespondents. Some researchers have reported that people who respond to surveys answer questions differently than those who do not. Others have found that late responders answer differently than early responders, and that the differences may be due to the different levels of interest in the subject matter. One researcher, who examined a volunteer organization, reported that those more actively involved in the organization were more likely to respond.

Demographic characteristics of nonrespondents have been investigated by many researchers. Most studies have found that nonresponse is associated with low education. However, one researcher reported that demographic characteristics such as age, education, and employment status were the same for respondents and nonrespondents. Another study found that nonrespondents were more often single males.

Most researchers view nonresponse bias as a continuum, ranging from fast responders to slow responders (with nonresponders defining the end of the continuum). In fact, one study used extrapolation to estimate the magnitude of bias created by nonresponse. Another group of researchers argue that nonresponse should not be viewed as a continuum, and that late respondents do not provide a suitable basis for estimating the characteristics of nonrespondents.

 

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