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The Effects of Incentives on the Consumer Expenditure Interview Survey?

Karen L. Goldenberg, David E. McGrath, and Lucilla Tan


Response rates have been falling for the Consumer Expenditure (CE) Quarterly Interview Survey, and CE conducted an experiment to see if an incentive could stem the decline. Since each CE household is interviewed 5 times, another question was whether any effect would persist through the last interview a year later. In this experiment, half the sample received prepaid unconditional incentives (a $20 or $40 debit card) prior to the first interview. Response rates for $40 debit card recipients were 4.5 percentage points higher than those of the control group, and the difference, while smaller, persisted across all 5 interviews. Effects were also noted on some data quality and field contact measures.