Survey response rates are an important measure of the quality of a survey; this is true for both longitudinal and cross-sectional surveys. However, the concept of a response rate in the context of a panel survey is more complex than is the case for a cross-sectional survey. There are typically many different response rates that can be calculated for a panel survey, each of which may be relevant for a specific purpose.
The main objective of our paper is to document and compare response rates for two long-term panel studies of ageing, the English Longitudinal Study of Ageing (ELSA) and the Health and Retirement Study (HRS) in the United States. To guide our selection and calculation of response rates for the two studies, we use a framework that was developed by Peter Lynn (2009) and present several different types of longitudinal response rates for the two surveys. We discuss similarities and differences in the study designs and protocols and how some of the differences affect comparisons of response rates across the two studies.