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Working Paper No. 1455

Nonresponse Bias in Trust Surveys

Working Paper
Bergh, Andreas , Christian Bjørnskov and Richard Öhrvall (2023). “Nonresponse Bias in Trust Surveys”. IFN Working Paper No. 1455. Stockholm: Research Institute of Industrial Economics (IFN).

Andreas Bergh, Christian Bjørnskov, Richard Öhrvall

Social trust is typically measured using surveys that ask people if they agree that most people can be trusted. A potential problem is that falling response rates plague these surveys. If non-responses are systematic, comparisons of social trust over time will be biased. We examine social and legal trust among non-respondents by conducting a classroom survey where the first part included questions on social and institutional trust and is answered during class, whereas a second part of the survey is handed in by respondents later.

Surveys from 300 Danish and Swedish university students suggest that, if anything, social trust among survey responders are somewhat lower than among non-responders. Using two waves of the Swedish National Election Study, we also show that conditional on education; social trust is uncorrelated to dropping out of the panel survey.