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Equipping the Offline Population with Internet Access in an Online Panel: Does It Make a Difference?

Referierte Aufsätze Web of Science

Ruben Bach, Carina Cornesse, Jessica Daikeler

In: Journal of Survey Statistics and Methodology 12 (2024), 1, S. 80-93


Online panel surveys are often criticized for their inability to cover the offline population, potentially resulting in coverage error. Previous research has demonstrated that non-internet users in fact differ from online individuals on several sociodemographic characteristics. In attempts to reduce coverage error due to missing the offline population, several probability-based online panels equip offline households with an internet connection and a simple computer or tablet. However, the question remains whether the recruitment of offline individuals for an online panel leads to substantial changes in survey estimates. That is, it is unclear whether estimates derived from the survey data are affected by the differences between the groups of online and offline individuals. Against this background, we investigate how the inclusion of the previously offline population into the German Internet Panel affects various survey estimates such as voting behavior and social engagement. Overall, we find little evidence for the claim that equipping otherwise offline individuals with online access affects the estimates derived from previously online individuals only.

Carina Cornesse

Head of SOEP Innovation Sample & Social Cohesion Panel in the German Socio-Economic Panel study Department

Keywords: Coverage bias; Coverage error; Online panel surveys; Web surveys