The panel recommends that research on mode effects on item reporting in the ACS be conducted using appropriate experimental designs. Even though it is difficult to design an experiment that can estimate the pure mode effect on reporting because of the confounding mode effect on unit nonresponse (see Biemer and Lyberg, 2003), some work is possible and should be done, given the centrality of multiple reporting modes to the ACS. For example, a sample of mail respondents could be reinterviewed by CATI or CAPI to compare the two sets of responses, or a subsample of mail nonrespondents for which telephone numbers are available could be sent to CAPI instead of CATI interviewing and their responses compared with responses obtained by CATI.

4-B.1.b
Differences in Response Mode for Population Groups

Census Bureau research has shown that households responding by mail in the decennial census differ from households requiring follow-up. Households that respond by mail are more likely to own their own homes and be headed by an older person; they are less likely to be headed by a nonwhite or Hispanic person (National Research Council, 2004b:101-102). Analysis of mail response rates for the C2SS, based on housing units in census tracts with 75 percent or more people reporting a specific race or ethnicity, found marked differences in mode of response by the race and ethnic composition of the tract—see Table 4-1.

TABLE 4-1 Weighted Distribution of Respondents by Mode for Census Tracts with Concentrations of Race and Ethnicity Groups, Census 2000 Supplementary Survey

Population Group (housing units) (weighted)

Response Mode (percent)

Total Response

Mail

CATI

CAPI

Predominantly white census tracts

60.5

7.4

28.1

96.0

Predominantly Asian census tracts

58.6

4.1

32.5

95.2

Predominantly black census tracts

34.9

8.9

48.6

92.4

Predominantly Hispanic census tracts

34.2

8.3

53.3

95.8

Predominantly American Indian and Alaska Native census tracts

16.6

2.6

69.9

89.1

Total housing units

56.2

7.3

31.9

95.4

NOTES: The distributions represent the percentages of housing units that responded by mail, CATI, and CAPI (with CAPI responses weighted to account for subsampling) among the estimated number of housing units that were eligible to be interviewed (excluding nonresidential addresses). The distributions shown apply to housing unit responses in census tracts in which 75 percent or more of the population reported a specific race or ethnicity.

SOURCE: U.S. Census Bureau (2002b:Tables 2, 3, 4).



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