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Reducing Bias in Phone Survey Samples: Effectiveness of Reweighting Techniques Using Face-to-Face Surveys as Frames in Four African Countries

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Date
2021-05
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2021-05
Abstract
Several developing countries are currently implementing phone surveys in response to immediate data needs to monitor the socioeconomic impact of COVID-19. However, phone surveys are often subject to coverage and non-response bias that can compromise the representativeness of the sample and the external validity of the estimates obtained from the survey. Using data from high-frequency phone surveys in Ethiopia, Malawi, Nigeria, and Uganda, this study investigates the magnitude and source of biases present in these four surveys and explores the effectiveness of techniques applied to reduce bias. Varying levels of coverage and non-response bias are found in all four countries. The successfully contacted samples in these four countries were biased toward wealthier households with higher living standards. Left unaddressed, this bias would result in biased estimates from the interviewed sample that do not fully reflect the situation of poorer households in the country. However, phone survey biases can be substantially reduced by applying survey weight adjustments using information from the representative survey from which the sample is drawn. Applying these methods to the four surveys resulted in a substantial reduction in bias, although the bias was not fully eradicated. This highlights one of the potential advantages of drawing phone survey samples from existing face-to-face, representative surveys over random digit dialing or using lists from telecom providers where such adjustment methods can be more limited.
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Ambel, Alemayehu; McGee, Kevin; Tsegay, Asmelash. 2021. Reducing Bias in Phone Survey Samples: Effectiveness of Reweighting Techniques Using Face-to-Face Surveys as Frames in Four African Countries. Policy Research Working Paper;No. 9676. © World Bank, Washington, DC. http://hdl.handle.net/10986/35637 License: CC BY 3.0 IGO.
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