Appending a Prepaid Phone Flag to the Cell Phone Sample

Kyley McGeeney


Telephone sample providers offer a flag that can be appended to cell phone samples to identify which phone numbers belong to prepaid or “pay as you go” cell phones. These phones tend to be used by people with lower incomes, a group that is often unrepresented in surveys. The Pew Research Center tested whether this flag could be used to correctly identify prepaid cell phone numbers and therefore the hard to reach demographic groups that typically use such phones. While the flag succeeded in identifying these groups, using this flag to oversample them is probably too costly and inefficient for a general population study. The Pew Research Center would only consider using this flag in the future for studies of particularly hard to reach demographic groups but not for general population studies. 


cell phone; prepaid; sample flags

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