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Can Online Surveys Represent the Entire Population?

Author

Listed:
  • Grewenig, Elisabeth

    () (Ifo Institute for Economic Research)

  • Lergetporer, Philipp

    () (Ifo Institute for Economic Research)

  • Simon, Lisa

    () (CESifo)

  • Werner, Katharina

    () (Ifo Institute for Economic Research)

  • Woessmann, Ludger

    () (Ifo Institute for Economic Research)

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.

Suggested Citation

  • Grewenig, Elisabeth & Lergetporer, Philipp & Simon, Lisa & Werner, Katharina & Woessmann, Ludger, 2018. "Can Online Surveys Represent the Entire Population?," IZA Discussion Papers 11799, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  • Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp11799
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    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Jérôme Hergueux & Nicolas Jacquemet, 2015. "Social preferences in the online laboratory: a randomized experiment," Experimental Economics, Springer;Economic Science Association, vol. 18(2), pages 251-283, June.
    2. Philipp Lergetporer & Katharina Werner & Ludger Wößmann, 2018. "Does Ignorance of Economic Returns and Costs Explain the Educational Aspiration Gap? Evidence from Representative Survey Experiments," CESifo Working Paper Series 7000, CESifo Group Munich.
    3. John Horton & David Rand & Richard Zeckhauser, 2011. "The online laboratory: conducting experiments in a real labor market," Experimental Economics, Springer;Economic Science Association, vol. 14(3), pages 399-425, September.
    4. Martin R. West & Ludger Woessmann & Philipp Lergetporer & Katharina Werner, 2016. "How Information Affects Support for Education Spending: Evidence from Survey Experiments in Germany and the United States," NBER Working Papers 22808, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    5. Anderhub, Vital & Muller, Rudolf & Schmidt, Carsten, 2001. "Design and evaluation of an economic experiment via the Internet," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 46(2), pages 227-247, October.
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    7. Lergetporer, Philipp & Werner, Katharina & Woessmann, Ludger, 2018. "Educational Inequality and Public Policy Preferences: Evidence From Representative Survey Experiments," Rationality and Competition Discussion Paper Series 110, CRC TRR 190 Rationality and Competition.
    8. Annette J‰ckle & Caroline Roberts & Peter Lynn, 2010. "Assessing the Effect of Data Collection Mode on Measurement," International Statistical Review, International Statistical Institute, vol. 78(1), pages 3-20, April.
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    10. Couper, Mick P. & Kapteyn, Arie & Schonlau, Matthias & Winter, Joachim, 2007. "Noncoverage and nonresponse in an Internet survey," Munich Reprints in Economics 20093, University of Munich, Department of Economics.
    11. Ilyana Kuziemko & Michael I. Norton & Emmanuel Saez & Stefanie Stantcheva, 2015. "How Elastic Are Preferences for Redistribution? Evidence from Randomized Survey Experiments," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 105(4), pages 1478-1508, April.
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    More about this item

    Keywords

    online survey; representativeness; mode effects; offliner; public opinion;

    JEL classification:

    • C83 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Data Collection and Data Estimation Methodology; Computer Programs - - - Survey Methods; Sampling Methods
    • D91 - Microeconomics - - Micro-Based Behavioral Economics - - - Role and Effects of Psychological, Emotional, Social, and Cognitive Factors on Decision Making
    • I20 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - General

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