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Open access

Bernard Baffour, Michele Haynes, Mark Western, Darren Pennay, Sebastian Misson and Arturo Martinez

Abstract

Until quite recently, telephone surveys have typically relied on landline telephone numbers. However, with the increasing popularity and affordability of mobile phones, there has been a surge in households that do not have landline connections. Additionally, there has been a decline in the response rates and population coverage of landline telephone surveys, creating a challenge to collecting representative social data. Dual-frame telephone surveys that use both landline and mobile phone sampling frames can overcome the incompleteness of landline-only telephone sampling. However, surveying mobile phone users introduces new complexities in sampling, nonresponse measurement and statistical weighting. This article examines these issues and illustrates the consequences of failing to include mobile-phone-only users in telephone surveys using data from Australia. Results show that there are significant differences in estimates of populations’ characteristics when using information solely from the landline or mobile telephone sample. These biases in the population estimates are significantly reduced when data from the mobile and landline samples are combined and appropriate dual-frame survey estimators are used. The optimal choice of a dual-frame estimation strategy depends on the availability of good-quality information that can account for the differential patterns of nonresponse by frame.