of social capital; in particular, length of residence, home ownership, and the presence of spouses and children strengthen social capital.
In considering the effect that social capital has on the likelihood to respond to surveys, Brick and Williams (2013) point out two aspects of the theory that should be considered: Social capital is a collective rather than an individual attribute, and the loss in social capital is partly due to generational change (p. 54). To the extent that nonresponse is generational, for example, it would suggest “exploring predictive models for reasons of nonresponse that are time-lagged and smooth data, rather than relying on the simple models that are considered here” (Brick and Williams, 2013, p. 55). Although social capital theory remains a possible explanation for increasing nonresponse, considerable research must be done to establish a link between the theory and survey nonresponse. Brick and Williams state that they would find “a rigorous investigation of the relationship between social capital and nonresponse rates to be extremely helpful” (Brick and Williams, 2013, p. 55).
The leverage–saliency theory (LST) provides a second perspective on survey participation. Groves et al. (2004) introduced the LST of survey participation in 2000. As summarized in Maynard et al. (2010), the LST is a theory of how potential respondents make decisions to participate in a survey interview.
The LST posits that people vary in the importance and value they assign to different aspects of a survey request (Groves et al., 2000). For example, for some individuals the topic may be important, for others the reputability of the organization conducting the survey may be significant, and for still others a chance to receive a cash reward may be of consequence. According to the theory, the influence of each component of the request depends both on the weight accorded it by a sampled individual (leverage) and on its prominence in the request protocol (saliency). One application of the LST has shown that when the survey topic is a factor in the decision to participate, noncooperation will cause nonresponse error on topic-related questions (Groves et al., 2004).
The LST assumes that a potential respondent has an expected utility for participating in a survey and agrees to participate if this expected utility is net positive. “Leverage” refers to a potential respondent’s assessments (including valence and weight) of the survey’s attributes that make participation more or less appealing. For example, a cash incentive might have a positive valence and a greater weight as the size of the incentive increases; a long interview might have negative valence and a weight