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The University of Southampton
Southampton Statistical Sciences Research Institute

Research project: Solving the problem of attrition in longitudinal surveys

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The main aim of this project is to improve understanding of, and find optimum solutions to, the problem of drop-out or 'attrition' in longitudinal surveys.

The project aims to update, and extend to longitudinal enquiry, the theoretical framework for non-response in cross-sectional surveys. The causes of non-response are investigated through statistical modelling of attrition processes using data from established longitudinal surveys. Following appraisal of the results, the theoretical model for non-response will be refined and a strategy formulated for encouraging continued participation in longitudinal surveys. This will be followed by the design and implementation of an exemplar field experiment using the Omnibus survey as a first test of the strategy.

This three-year ESRC-funded project is part of the ESRC Survey Design and Measurement Initiative, it is directed by John Bynner (National Centre for Social Research, Natcen) in collaboration with Gabriele Durrant (S3RI), Harvey Goldstein(University of Bristol), Peter Lynn(University of Essex), Ian Plewis and John McDonald(Institute of Education), and a team from Natcen. The project brings together survey methodologists, statisticians, social scientists and practitioners with responsibility for longitudinal surveys.

As part of this project Gabriele Durrant, Harvey Goldstein and a team from Natcen are currently conducting research on the effects of interviewers on attrition in longitudinal surveys.

Some of the projects output will be circulated as S3RI working papers. The project team will present output of the research at various national and international conferences such as at the Conference of the European Survey Research Association in 2009.

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