Exploring the Feasibility of Mail Surveys in Urban China

While mail surveys are common in many developed countries, it is still a new method in other, often less-developed countries. This study explores the feasibility of mail surveys in urban China. We conducted an experiment manipulating delivery method (regular mail vs. courier delivery service) and incentive payment (prepaid vs. no incentive) using an area-probability sample of 2,400 households in Shanghai. Concerns about the effectiveness of prepaid incentives in China arise given the prevalence of scams. Courier delivery is generally faster and more reliable than regular mail, but there was uncertainty whether courier could outperform regular delivery when recipients? name and contact information are unavailable. Findings show that mail surveys delivered using regular postal service with a prepaid incentive achieved the most cost-effective return per completed interview in Shanghai.