Approaches to Evaluating Welfare Reform: Lessons from Five State Demonstrations. C. ACHIEVING HIGH RESPONSE RATES


In our review of the five state waiver evaluations, we found varying approaches to surveys; these approaches depended in part on the evaluator's experience in surveys of low-income populations. We also noted that some of the surveys have achieved relatively low response rates; DHHS staff reports that low response rates have been a concern in welfare reform waiver evaluations in other states as well. Low response rates are a particular concern in using a survey for the impact evaluation, since the lower the response rate, the more risk of bias in impact estimates based on respondents alone. Here, we consider appropriate standards for an acceptable response rate for a follow-up survey to be used in estimating impacts, as well as the survey practices that are particularly conducive to achieving high response rates and maintaining sample and data quality over time.