Carina Cornesse, Ines Schaurer
The Long-Term Impact of Different Offline Population Inclusion Strategies in Probability-Based Online Panels: Evidence From the German Internet Panel and the GESIS Panel

Social Science Computer Review, 2021: 39, issue 4, pp. 687–704
ISSN: 0894-4393 (print), 1552-8286 (online)

While online panels offer numerous advantages, they are often criticized for excluding the offline population. Therefore, some probability-based online panels have developed offline population inclusion strategies. Two dominant approaches prevail: providing internet equipment and offering an alternative survey participation mode. We investigate the impact of these approaches on two probability-based online panels in Germany: the German Internet Panel, which provides members of the offline population with internet equipment, and the GESIS Panel, which offers members of the offline population to participate via postal mail surveys. In addition, we explore the impact of offering an alternative mode only to non-internet users versus also offering the alternative mode to internet users who are unwilling to provide survey data online. Albeit lower recruitment and/or panel wave participation probabilities among offliners than onliners, we find that including the offline population has a positive long-term impact on sample accuracy in both panels. In the GESIS Panel, the positive impact is particularly strong when offering the alternative participation mode to non-internet users and internet users who are unwilling to provide survey data online.