Talk or Text? Evaluating Response Rates by Remote Survey Method during COVID-19

CESifo Working Paper Series No. 9517

46 Pages Posted: 12 Jan 2022 Last revised: 25 Jan 2022

See all articles by Sofia Amaral

Sofia Amaral

Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich (LMU) - ifo Institute (Leibniz Institute for Economic Research at the University of Munich); CESifo (Center for Economic Studies and Ifo Institute)

Lelys Dinarte

World Bank

Patricio Dominguez-Rivera

Inter-American Development Bank

Santiago M. Perez-Vincent

Inter-American Development Bank (IDB)

Steffanny Romero

World Bank

Date Written: January 11, 2022

Abstract

Researchers and policy makers face significant challenges in selecting a method to conduct remote surveys, especially when collecting sensitive information or during turbulent life stages of hard-to-reach groups. In the context of the COVID-19 lockdown, we randomly selected about 600 adults in El Salvador to survey using two different tools: telephone interviews or a self-completion survey via WhatsApp. We find that phone-based surveys increase the rate of survey completion by 42 percentage points. We document even larger effects for women and older adults. Although direct costs of phone-based surveys are substantially larger—doubling implementation cost—our estimates imply that when adjusted for the probability of completion, the costs of conducting phone-based surveys can be 25 percent lower.

Keywords: Phone surveys, WhatsApp surveys, Response rate, Survey experiments

JEL Classification: C83, C81, C93, D9

Suggested Citation

Amaral, Sofia and Dinarte, Lelys and Dominguez-Rivera, Patricio and Perez-Vincent, Santiago M. and Romero, Steffanny, Talk or Text? Evaluating Response Rates by Remote Survey Method during COVID-19 (January 11, 2022). CESifo Working Paper Series No. 9517, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=4006505 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.4006505

Sofia Amaral (Contact Author)

Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich (LMU) - ifo Institute (Leibniz Institute for Economic Research at the University of Munich) ( email )

Munich
Germany

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

Poschinger Str. 5
Munich, DE-81679
Germany

Lelys Dinarte

World Bank ( email )

1818 H Street, NW
Washington, DC 20433
United States

Patricio Dominguez-Rivera

Inter-American Development Bank

1300 New York Ave NW
Washington, DC 20577
United States

Santiago M. Perez-Vincent

Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) ( email )

1300 New York Avenue NW
Washington, DC 20577
United States

Steffanny Romero

World Bank ( email )

1818 H Street, NW
Washington, DC 20433
United States

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