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Comparison of Outcome Codes Used for Attrition Calculations for Telephone Samples

Roberta L. Sangster, Cassandra Wirth, and Charles Mason


The Telephone Point of Purchase Survey (TPOPS) is one of several surveys that are used by the Bureau of Labor Statistics to create the Consumer Price Index. TPOPS is conducted to create the establishment frame for the pricing of goods and services used for the market basket of goods. It is conducted quarterly over a one-year cycle. A sample for each panel is drawn via random digit dialing. The quarterly target sample size is approximately 24,000 households. Twenty-five percent of this is new RDD sample, along with some supplemental sample added due to attrition. This study focuses on the outcome variables needed to compute an attrition rate for the TPOPS. Outcome codes consist of all major work actions taken on each case, which may affect its work progress and final disposition. This includes interviewer actions, supervisor's actions, and programs set up in the instrument (e.g., maximum call attempt rules). Multitudes of decisions are made before a final outcome code is assigned to a case. We compare distributions based on what data are included in outcome codes that are used to calculate attrition. The limitations of the current outcome codes are also discussed.