How does survey mode affect household consumption and poverty estimates: experimental evidence from in-person and telephone surveys

Last registered on August 23, 2021

Pre-Trial

Trial Information

General Information

Title
How does survey mode affect household consumption and poverty estimates: experimental evidence from in-person and telephone surveys
RCT ID
AEARCTR-0008097
Initial registration date
August 19, 2021
Last updated
August 23, 2021, 10:27 AM EDT

Locations

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Primary Investigator

Affiliation
IFPRI

Other Primary Investigator(s)

PI Affiliation
IFPRI
PI Affiliation
IFPRI

Additional Trial Information

Status
On going
Start date
2021-03-09
End date
2021-12-31
Secondary IDs
Prior work
This trial is based on or builds upon one or more prior RCTs.
Abstract
Remote data collection modes, such as phone surveys, have exploded in popularity in low- and middle-income countries following the COVID-19 disruptions that made traditional, face-to-face interviews both questionable ethically, difficult to train, and during lockdowns, effectively impossible. While phone survey modes are economical, quick to implement, and potentially make safeguarding anonymity easier, they also suffer drawbacks. They lack the visual aids/cues and observed respondent reactions to questions, which are often keys for collecting good quality data. Phone interviews must be much shorter to keep respondents from losing their focus, and so phone interviews may not be suitable for complex questions that are cognitively demanding or that require time to answer. The (non-random) difference in access to remote survey modes (e.g., phone ownership) and their implications on sample representativeness is also another concern that can affect the data reliability.

Despite the above-mentioned concerns on the reliability of data collected through remote survey modes, there are not yet many systematic studies that contrast responses from remote survey modes with face-to-face interviews in the context of low- and middle-income countries. In this study, we explore how survey mode affect household consumption and poverty estimates through a survey experiment that randomizes whether respondents are interviewed in person or by telephone. Specifically, we randomly assign representative sample households from Addis Ababa into two balanced groups (i.e., either to an in-person survey or a telephone survey) and administrator a “standard” food and non-food consumption survey module, to a panel of households that have been interviewed several times in the past two years (both in-person and by phone). To also be able to test whether survey fatigue differs by interview method, we cross-randomize the order of questions on food consumption into two groups.
External Link(s)

Registration Citation

Citation
Abate, Gashaw T, Alan de Brauw and Kalle Hirvonen. 2021. "How does survey mode affect household consumption and poverty estimates: experimental evidence from in-person and telephone surveys." AEA RCT Registry. August 23. https://doi.org/10.1257/rct.8097-1.0
Sponsors & Partners

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Experimental Details

Interventions

Intervention(s)
Intervention Start Date
2021-08-31
Intervention End Date
2021-09-15

Primary Outcomes

Primary Outcomes (end points)
Food consumption (both in kilocalorie and expenditure terms); non-food consumption (in expenditure terms); dietary diversity, poverty estimates.
Primary Outcomes (explanation)

Secondary Outcomes

Secondary Outcomes (end points)
Secondary Outcomes (explanation)

Experimental Design

Experimental Design
The survey experiment have two study arms. Households in the first study arm will be interviewed face-to-face (in-person) and households in the second study arm will be interviewed by telephone. Other than the survey mode, the survey modules are the same and enumerators will conduct computer-assisted interviews (i.e., using similar survey application) in both cases. To test whether survey fatigue differs by interview method, we cross-randomize the order of questions on food consumption into two groups.
Experimental Design Details
Not available
Randomization Method
Randomization done in office by a computer.
Randomization Unit
Household level randomization.
Was the treatment clustered?
No

Experiment Characteristics

Sample size: planned number of clusters
40 ketena.
Sample size: planned number of observations
895 households.
Sample size (or number of clusters) by treatment arms
Study arm one (in-person interview): 448.
Study arm two (telephone interview): 447.
Minimum detectable effect size for main outcomes (accounting for sample design and clustering)
IRB

Institutional Review Boards (IRBs)

IRB Name
International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI)-IRB.
IRB Approval Date
2021-03-09
IRB Approval Number
00007490