Sociology, Department of


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Presented at “Interviewers and Their Effects from a Total Survey Error Perspective Workshop,” University of Nebraska-Lincoln, February 26-28, 2019.


Copyright 2019 by the authors.


In Sub-Saharan Africa, where only one in five people uses the Internet and connectivity issues restrict the possibility for phone surveys in rural areas, interviewer-administered face-to-face (F2F) surveys are and will remain the principal data collection tool in the foreseeable future. Yet questions remain as to what extent previous findings on interviewer-administered surveys from Western countries may apply to a different cultural and geographical context. In this light, the objective of this study is to investigate the influence of certain observable interviewer characteristics (such as gender, age) and non-observable characteristics (such as education, attitudes) on interviewer variance on a subset of survey questions – both factual and attitudinal ones. Due to the different societal structure in Zambia, respondents may potentially interpret and respond to the cues given by the interviewer in a different way. The analysis draws on data from a face-to-face survey on standards of living, economic situation and financial behaviour in rural or semi-urban areas of Zambia. The survey was administered in 2016 with more than 2,000 members of selected collective savings groups who are beneficiaries of a development programme. For each savings group, a team of five interviewers were randomly assigned to randomly selected respondents following a partially interpenetrated assignment. Previous literature stresses the importance to differentiate interviewer variance introduced during the recruitment and nonresponse stage from that related to measurement error. In this study, not the interviewer but supervisors with support by savings group leaders select and ensure participation of respondents, as well as carry out the assignment of interviewers. This particular design allows to focus on interviewer effects on measurement primarily as the interviewer was not involved in recruitment. This study on interviewer effects presents both the interviewer variance analysis on the selected questions, as well as the results of multi-level models.