Publication Title

Society and Natural Resources

Document Type


Department or Program

Environmental Studies

Publication Date



Response rates to mail-based surveys have declined in recent decades, and survey response rates for farmers tend to be low overall. Maintaining high response rates is necessary to prevent non-response bias. Historically, incentives have been an effective tool to increase response rates with general populations. However, the effect of incentives on farmers has not been well tested. In this study, we experimentally manipulated the use of a $2 incentive in two surveys targeted at farmers. We tested both the use of the incentive and the timing of incentive distribution in the survey process. We found the incentive significantly increased response rates with farmers but there was no significant effect of when the incentive was distributed. Additionally, we evaluated the cost-effectiveness of using the incentive. While the incentive increased response rate, the cost per survey response also increased and the cost of the incentive was not offset by the increased response rate.


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Copyright Note

This is the author's version of the work. This publication appears in Bates College's institutional repository by permission of the copyright owner for personal use, not for redistribution.

Required Publisher's Statement

This is an Accepted Manuscript of an article published by Taylor & Francis in Society and Natural Resources on November 20, 2018 available online: