Cover: The RAND American Life Panel

The RAND American Life Panel

Technical Description

Published Jul 26, 2017

by Michael S. Pollard, Matthew D. Baird

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Research Questions

  1. How does the RAND American Life Panel recruit participants?
  2. How does it collect data?
  3. How does it maximize response rates and deal with attrition?
  4. How are the samples weighted?

The RAND American Life Panel (ALP) is an Internet panel that has been recruited primarily using probability sample methods and consists of approximately 6,000 active respondents ages 18 and older. Since January 2006, RAND has fielded more than 450 surveys, in such areas as financial decisionmaking, inflation expectations, joint retirement decisions, retirement preferences, health decisionmaking, Social Security knowledge and expectations, measurement of health utility, numeracy, presidential and midterm elections, and the effect that political events have on self-reported well-being. This document provides a detailed description of the ALP methodology related to sample recruitment, sample retention, and weighting and should be of use for users of the ALP and as general reference material.

Key Findings

Current Panel Participants Were Recruited from Multiple Representative Probability Samples of the U.S. Population and Nonprobability Samples

  • Cohorts were recruited from the University of Michigan monthly surveys via internet and phone, Stanford University National Survey Project, respondent-referred sample, experimental mail recruitment, experimental phone recruitment, respondent-driven sampling of Hispanics, address-based sampling of ZIP Codes with high percentages of Hispanic or low-income households, within respondent family/household recruits, and random-digit dialing.

Data Are Collected in Multiple Ways

  • Respondents use their own Internet-connected devices or those that RAND provides. They complete quarterly updates and requests to complete other surveys. They receive incentives for completing the surveys.

Response Rates Are Maximized and Attrition Minimized

  • RAND periodically contacts inactive members to try to make them active again. Attrition is very low, at less than 8 percent.

Surveys Are Weighted to Population Distributions from the Current Population Survey

  • RAND weights the ALP to national demographic distributions from the U.S. Current Population Survey using a raking procedure.

The research described in this report was undertaken within RAND Labor and Population.

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