No. 437 - Mind the mode: lessons from a web survey on household finances

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by Romina Gambacorta, Martina Lo Conte, Manuela Murgia, Andrea Neri, Roberta Rizzi and Francesca ZanichelliJune 2018

The paper studies the results of an experimental web survey on households, carried out in collaboration with the Italian national statistical institute (ISTAT), with the aim of identifying the advantages and disadvantages of using the Internet as a tool for surveying households' income and wealth. The quality of the information collected is assessed by comparison with tax statistics and with the aggregate evidence inferable from the interim survey conducted through personal interviews.

The use of the Internet excludes about 30% of households from the survey, especially less educated and lower income households; the participation rate is lower than that of surveys conducted with an interviewer. Households seem to respond more honestly to questions about their economic conditions and levels of under-reporting are lower with respect to employment and retirement income. The richest households show a higher participation rate.