Problems Relating to Declining Response Rates to Social Survey Research in Japan: Trends After 2000

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Sociologists in Japan recognize that the circumstances under which social survey research is conducted have been deteriorating and have become critical since 2000. Social survey research is understood as a large-scale survey that mainly draws samples by a random sampling method, using a questionnaire as a measurement tool. The crises of social survey research are summarized as following: (1) the increasing difficulty of conducting accurate sampling and (2) the decline in response rates to drawn samples (planned samples). This paper focuses on the decline in response rates to social survyes by examining recent trends in relation to social surveys conducted by the Japanese government and local government (prefectures). In summary, there has been a landslidedecline of the response rate between 2005 and 2006 in surveys conducted by Japanese government. This decline was thought to mainly come from the declining of response rates among the elderly and women, groups that had previously had high response rates. This seems to be the result of the growing level of the crime involving the abuse of the personal information. However, there did not appear to be a serious decline in the response rate for surveys conducted by local governments. Given that it is not easy to restore response rates, it is important to develop research methods and techniques to cope with the decline. Further, informing respondents of the purpose of the research and its benefit to may help raise response rates.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)10-22
Number of pages13
JournalInternational Journal of Japanese Sociology
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2007 Nov
Externally publishedYes


  • Response rate
  • Social survey
  • The Act on the Protection of Personal Information

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Sociology and Political Science


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