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
Date Written: January 11, 2022
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: Suggested Citation