Race and race-of-institution effects on mailed questionnaire response

Document Type



This paper reports the results of research examining the issue of non-response bias to mailed surveys. The hypothesis for this experiment was that lower response rates of black citizens to mail questionnaires could be overcome, in part, by using black sponsoring institutions. A city was selected which contained both a traditionally black and a traditionally white state supported university. Two samples of randomly chosen registered voters from selected precincts received the same mailed survey. The samples consisted of equal numbers of black and white registered voters. Some precincts were racially segregated (all black or all white) and others integrated and were from middle and working class neighborhoods. If a total design method is used (in contrast to a single shot survey design) institutional affiliation does not affect response rates of black or white citizens. The research helps to elucidate empirically the complexity of the response rate hypothesis as it applies to race.


County government; Local government; Mail surveys – Response rates; Race discrimination; Surveys


Civic and Community Engagement | Personality and Social Contexts | Public Affairs, Public Policy and Public Administration | Race and Ethnicity | Sociology

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