The Future of Non Probability Sampling

While attending the American Association for Public Opinion Research conference in Boston, MA the topic of non-probability samples was something of a reoccurring theme. I attended the task force panel review on the topic. However, there is currently no commonly accepted solution.

It was about one year ago that Pew reported (Pew report) that their phone completion rate was down to 9%. I can’t imagine that out will be going up ant time soon. That makes one wonder how much longer phone surveys can be considered a probability sample (and that doesn’t mention the whole issue with cell phone adoption). It is certainly not a sustainable method.

One thing is clear, the time has come and something will need to be done in order to solve that problem. Some have even suggested that landline surveys be eliminated and move strictly to cell phone surveys. However, that is probably a band-aid at best and is likely not sustainable either. Some are using sample matching with opt-in Web panels with varying degrees of success. Twitter, Facebook, and other social media are constantly thrown around too.

Reg Baker over at The Survey Geek is heading up the AAPOR task force for the past couple of years trying to solve this problem.


George Box stated that “all models are wrong, but some are useful”. I guess the same now applies to samples. It will be interesting to follow this topic. For the recent update AAPOR just released their report.

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