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Replacement Forms Are Coming! Another Attempt to Reduce The Costs of Visits to Households by Census Takers

Tue Mar 30 2010
Robert Groves
Component ID: #ti288186163

One of the most consistent findings in survey research is that mailing to nonrespondent cases a second questionnaire leads to higher response rates.

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The vast majority of people who do not return a completed questionnaire after a couple of weeks have not decided to refrain from returning it. Most lead busy lives with many other obligations and have set aside the questionnaire to finish later.

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The mailing of a second questionnaire is a polite way to remind them that they have indeed failed to do something they intended to do. Fairly quick responses generally result.

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As I’ve noted in public several times, the 2010 Census must count everyone by law. If the completed form is not returned by mail, we will have to send a trained census taker out to visit the household. This costs money that we’d like to avoid spending ($57 per household instead of the $0.42 for return mailing).

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Hence, starting this week, for areas of the country that have traditionally returned the mailed form at lower rates, we will mail a replacement questionnaire. In other areas, we will not do so.

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To have a replacement form for a census requires a very large printing capacity, both for the forms and the labeling. For that reason, in some areas, we will mail a replacement form to every address, whether they returned a form or not (we printed these several weeks ago and have them ready to deliver). For other areas, we will mail a replacement form only to those from whom we have not yet received a completed form. (This set required a lot of coordination with printers and just-in-time printing of labels.)

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If you receive a replacement form and have already returned a completed form, please discard the form. If not, here’s an easy way to complete the census without having to search around the house for what happened to the first one.

Component ID: #ti8294241

Please submit any questions pertaining to this post to ask.census.gov

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