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Low response rate: what to do? - 2024

Low response rate: what to do? 
Course LeaderBarry Schouten
Target Group
  • All NSIs staff dealing with data collection facing non-response, either unit non-response where entire units intended to be collected are missing or item non-response where some items of otherwise responding units are missing.
Entry Qualifications
  • Sound command of English. Participants should be able to make short interventions and to actively participate in discussions
  • An academic degree with some knowledge of statistics (social science, statistics, economics), especially multivariate statistics
  • Some basic knowledge of survey sampling and statistical modelling.
  • The main objective of the courses is to enhance the theoretical and practical knowledge related to the treatment of unit non-response and item non-response. In particular, participants will gain knowledge on weighting techniques in order to deal with unit non-response and imputation techniques in order to deal with item non-response. For unit-nonresponse, participants will also learn about up to date monitoring of data collection and application of adaptive survey designs.
  • The course covers both person and household surveys and business surveys;
  • The non-response problem. Definition of non-response, causes of non-response, types of non-response (unit, item), calculation of response rates;
  • Some mathematical background, models for non-response, effects of non-response on bias, confidence intervals, MCAR (Missing Completely at Random), MAR (Missing at Random), NMAR (Not Missing at Random);
  • How to detect non-response bias, role of auxiliary information. Selection of important auxiliary variables;
  • Monitoring of unit-nonresponse and adaptive survey designs;
  • Correcting afterwards for unit non-response, weighting adjustment techniques (post-stratification, linear weighting, multiplicative weighting, calibration, propensity score method), central-question-approach, re-sampling non-respondents;
  • Correcting afterwards for item non-response: mean/mode imputation, (hot-deck and cold-deck) donor imputation, regression imputation, predictive mean matching, longitudinal imputation (panel data), last information carry forward;
  • Communication to different user groups on the level of non-response, on the correction methods applied and on the impact on accuracy of results.
  • Integration of the treatment of unit- and item-nonresponse methods
  • Gaining experience through realistic, practical computer exercises


Expected Outcome
  • Good understanding of the non-response problem. Knowledge of correction methods for unit and item non-response, and the ability to apply these methods in practice.
Training Methods
  • Lectures about non-response problems and correcting methods for unit and item non-response
  • Some practical cases
  • Practical exercises based on real data sets
  • Reading material (course books + additional papers)
Required ReadingNone
Suggested Reading
  • Jelke Bethlehem, Fannie Cobben & Barry Schouten (2011), Handbook of Non-response in Household Surveys. Wiley & Sons, Hoboken, NJ
  • Little, R.J.A. and D.B. Rubin (2002), Statistical Analysis with Missing Data (second edition). John Wiley & Sons, New York.
  • Schouten, B., Peytchev, A., Wagner, J. (2017), Adaptive Survey Design, Chapmann & Hall
Required Preparation

Participants are invited to sketch non-response in their own organisation, both unit non-response as well as item non-response: magnitude, treatment, etc.

Participants are also invited to present their own survey case studies and list questions they may have. These will receive extra attention in the course.



Prof. dr. Barry Schouten (Statistics Netherlands)

Prof. dr. Ton de Waal (Statistics Netherlands)


Practical Information    
WhenDurationWhereOrganiserApplication  via National Contact Point
25-26.06.20242 daysThe Hague, NetherlandsICON-INSTITUT Public SectorDeadline: 29.04.2024