Approaches to Evaluating Welfare Reform: Lessons from Five State Demonstrations. a. Standards for Response Rates

10/01/1996

The Office of Management and Budget sets the standard of a minimum 80 percent response rate in surveys funded directly by the federal government. For surveys of low-income populations, achieving high response rates is a particular challenge. Low-income families tend to be more mobile, often do not have telephones, and may be suspicious of outsiders asking them questions because of concern about losing government benefits. In some areas, large subgroups of the low-income population do not speak English. However, the authors and experts consulted for this report believe that response rates in the 75 to 80 percent range are achievable with low-income populations when quality survey methods are used. Response rates may be raised to around 85 percent with ample resources for tracking and repeated interview attempts, but they rarely exceed this level.