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Improving Response Quality with Planned Missing Data: An Application to a Survey of Banks

The Econometrics of Complex Survey Data

ISBN: 978-1-78756-726-9, eISBN: 978-1-78756-725-2

ISSN: 0731-9053

Publication date: 10 April 2019


We survey banks to construct national estimates of total noncash payments by type, payments fraud and related information. The survey is designed to create aggregate total estimates of all payments in the United States using data from responses returned by a representative, random sample. In 2016, the number of questions in the survey doubled compared with the previous survey, raising serious concerns of smaller bank nonparticipation. To obtain sufficient response data for all questions from smaller banks, we administered a modified survey design which, in addition to randomly sampling banks, also randomly assigned one of several survey forms, subsets of the full survey. This case study illustrates that while several other factors influenced response outcomes, the approach helped ensure sufficient response for smaller banks. Using such an approach may be especially important in an optional-participation survey, when reducing costs to respondents may affect success, or when imputation of unplanned missing items is already needed for estimation. While a variety of factors affected the outcome, we find that the planned missing data approach improved response outcomes for smaller banks. The planned missing item design should be considered as a way of reducing survey burden or increasing unit-level and item-level responses for individual respondents without reducing the full set of survey items collected.




Opinions are the authors' alone and do not necessarily reflect those of the Board of Governors, the Federal Reserve System, or its staff. We acknowledge David Jacho-Chávez, Editor of the Advances in Econometrics, two anonymous referees, and participants at the Bank of Canada conference associated with this volume for comments and suggestions. We thank Lauren Clark, Daniel Nikolic, Justin Skillman, and Alexander Spitz for assistance during different stages of the research. We also thank Michael Argento and Thomas Welander of the Global Concepts Office of McKinsey and Company for support during survey design and data collection. Further information about the surveys is available at Any errors or omissions are the responsibility of the authors.


Gerdes, G.R. and Liu, X. (2019), "Improving Response Quality with Planned Missing Data: An Application to a Survey of Banks", The Econometrics of Complex Survey Data (Advances in Econometrics, Vol. 39), Emerald Publishing Limited, Bingley, pp. 237-258.



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