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Final Report Volume I: Background Paper, Declining Response Rates in Federal Surveys: Trends and Implications

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Over the last decade, survey response rates have been steadily declining, and this decline has raised concerns across the federal government regarding the quality and utility of national survey data. Response rates are commonly considered the most important indicator of the representativeness of a survey sample and overall data quality, and low response rates are viewed as evidence that a sample suffers from nonresponse bias. The purpose of this study is to convene experts from the HHS survey programs as well as other federal statistical agencies (such as the Census Bureau) to identify best practices and guidance for assessing survey quality and generalizability, using response rates as only one of a set of contributing factors.