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

48 Pages Posted: 18 Jan 2022

See all articles by Sofia Amaral

Sofia Amaral

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

Lelys Dinarte

World Bank

Patricio Dominguez

Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile

Steffanny Romero

Universidad del Rosario

Santiago M. Perez-Vincent

Inter-American Development Bank (IDB)

Date Written: 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: C830, C810, C930, D910

Suggested Citation

Amaral, Sofia and Dinarte, Lelys and Dominguez, Patricio and Romero, Steffanny and Perez-Vincent, Santiago M., Talk or Text? Evaluating Response Rates by Remote Survey Method During COVID-19 (2022). CESifo Working Paper No. 9517, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=4009417 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.4009417

Sofia Amaral (Contact Author)

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

Poschinger Str. 5
Munich, 01069
Germany

Lelys Dinarte

World Bank ( email )

1818 H Street, NW
Washington, DC 20433
United States

Patricio Dominguez

Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile ( email )

Av Libertador General Bernardo O'Higgins 340
Santiago, Región Metropolitana 8331150
Chile

Steffanny Romero

Universidad del Rosario ( email )

Calle 12 No. 6-25
Bogota, DC
Colombia

Santiago M. Perez-Vincent

Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) ( email )

1300 New York Avenue NW
Washington, DC 20577
United States

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