Quality & Quantity

, Volume 50, Issue 5, pp 1969–1991 | Cite as

Extreme nonresponse and response bias

A “worst case” analysis
  • Ottar Hellevik


The article analyzes response bias in the Norwegian Monitor, a series of surveys carried out every second year since 1985, with a response rate of only 4 % in the last wave. One third of the respondents in a telephone interview completed the follow-up mail questionnaire. Their answers in the telephone interview are compared with those of the total telephone sample. Furthermore, results from the mail questionnaire are compared with population statistics and high-response surveys. Finally, the plausibility of nonresponse bias as an explanation regarding trends and correlations in the data is discussed. The conclusion is that even in this extreme case of nonresponse most results are not biased, suggesting that also survey data with very low response rates may have scientific value.


Response rate Nonresponse bias Total survey error Survey research 



I have received useful comments/suggestions from anonymous referees, from Erik Dalen, Kristin Rogge Pran, Jan-Paul Brekke, Karen Lillebøe and Arild Sæle at Ipsos MMI, and from Johannes Bergh, Gunnar Sæbø, Tale Hellevik and Erik Neslein Mønness.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Political ScienceUniversity of OsloOsloNorway

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