Can Online Surveys Represent the Entire Population?

31 Pages Posted: 24 Sep 2018

See all articles by Elisabeth Grewenig

Elisabeth Grewenig

CESifo (Center for Economic Studies and Ifo Institute) - Ifo Institute

Philipp Lergetporer

University of Innsbruck

Lisa Simon

CESifo (Center for Economic Studies and Ifo Institute)

Katharina Werner

CESifo (Center for Economic Studies and Ifo Institute) - Ifo Institute

Ludger Woessmann

Ifo Institute for Economic Research; Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA); CESifo (Center for Economic Studies and Ifo Institute for Economic Research); University of Munich - Ifo Institute for Economic Research

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Abstract

A general concern with the representativeness of online surveys is that they exclude the "offline" population that does not use the internet. We run a large-scale opinion survey with (1) onliners in web mode, (2) offliners in face-to-face mode, and (3) onliners in face-to-face mode. We find marked response differences between onliners and offliners in the mixed-mode setting (1 vs. 2). Response differences between onliners and offliners in the same face-to-face mode (2 vs. 3) disappear when controlling for background characteristics, indicating mode effects rather than unobserved population differences. Differences in background characteristics of onliners in the two modes (1 vs. 3) indicate that mode effects partly reflect sampling differences. In our setting, re-weighting online-survey observations appears a pragmatic solution when aiming at representativeness for the entire population.

Keywords: online survey, representativeness, mode effects, offliner, public opinion

JEL Classification: C83, D91, I20

Suggested Citation

Grewenig, Elisabeth and Lergetporer, Philipp and Simon, Lisa and Werner, Katharina and Woessmann, Ludger, Can Online Surveys Represent the Entire Population?. IZA Discussion Paper No. 11799. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3253457

Elisabeth Grewenig (Contact Author)

CESifo (Center for Economic Studies and Ifo Institute) - Ifo Institute ( email )

Poschinger Str. 5
Munich, 01069
Germany

Philipp Lergetporer

University of Innsbruck ( email )

Universit├Ątsstra├če 15
Innsbruck, 6020
Austria

Lisa Simon

CESifo (Center for Economic Studies and Ifo Institute) ( email )

Poschinger Str. 5
Munich, DE-81679
Germany

Katharina Werner

CESifo (Center for Economic Studies and Ifo Institute) - Ifo Institute ( email )

Poschinger Str. 5
Munich, 01069
Germany

Ludger Woessmann

Ifo Institute for Economic Research ( email )

Poschingerstr. 5
Munich
Germany
++49 89 9224 1699 (Phone)
++49 89 9224 1460 (Fax)

HOME PAGE: http://www.cesifo.de/link/woessmann_l.htm

Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA)

P.O. Box 7240
Bonn, D-53072
Germany

CESifo (Center for Economic Studies and Ifo Institute for Economic Research)

Poschinger Str. 5
Munich, DE-81679
Germany

University of Munich - Ifo Institute for Economic Research

Schackstr. 4
Munich, 80539
Germany

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