Joseph W. Sakshaug, Frauke Kreuter
The effect of benefit wording on consent to link survey and administrative records in a web survey

Public Opinion Quarterly, 2014: 78, issue 1, pp. 166-176
ISSN: 1537-5331

Survey data-collection costs are steadily increasing, forcing government agencies and survey organizations to consider more costeffective methods of acquiring high-quality information from respondents. Web surveys and administrative data linkage are two approaches often considered to help offset rising costs; however, these two approaches are rarely used jointly in the same survey. Consequently, little is known about how one should ask for linkage consent in a web survey in order to maximize consent rates and minimize the risk of linkage bias. The lack of an interviewer, who is often responsible for explaining the rationale and potential benefits associated with the proposed linkage, poses challenges for phrasing the consent request in a way that successfully describes to web survey respondents the advantages of linkage. To investigate this issue, we conducted a wording experiment that mentioned a particular benefit of linkage for web survey respondents: reduced questionnaire length and overall time savings. We found that respondents who received the benefit wording were more likely to provide linkage consent than respondents who received a more neutral wording.