Does Benefit Framing Improve Record Linkage Consent Rates? A Survey Experiment


  • Joseph W. Sakshaug Institute for Employment Research; University of Mannheim
  • Jens Stegmaier Institute for Employment Research
  • Mark Trappmann Institute for Employment Research; University of Bamberg
  • Frauke Kreuter Institute for Employment Research; University of Mannheim; University of Maryland



administrative data, framing, interviewer-respondent interaction, questionnaire design, telephone survey


Survey researchers are increasingly seeking opportunities to link interview data with administrative records. However, obtaining consent from all survey respondents (or certain subgroups) remains a barrier to performing record linkage in many studies. We experimentally investigated whether emphasizing different benefits of record linkage to respondents in a telephone survey of employee working conditions improves respondents’ willingness to consent to linkage of employment administrative records relative to a neutral consent request. We found that emphasizing linkage benefits related to “time savings” yielded a small, albeit statistically significant, improvement in the overall linkage consent rate (86.0) relative to the neutral consent request (83.8 percent). The time savings argument was particularly effective among “busy” respondents. A second benefit argument related to “improved study value” did not yield a statistically significant improvement in the linkage consent rate (84.4 percent) relative to the neutral request. This benefit argument was also ineffective among the subgroup of respondents considered to be most likely to have a self-interest in the study outcomes. The article concludes with a brief discussion of the practical implications of these findings and offers suggestions for possible research extensions.


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How to Cite

Sakshaug, J. W., Stegmaier, J., Trappmann, M., & Kreuter, F. (2019). Does Benefit Framing Improve Record Linkage Consent Rates? A Survey Experiment. Survey Research Methods, 13(3), 289–304.




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