Volume 38 - Article 55 | Pages 1663–1698  

Measuring fertility through mobile‒phone based household surveys: Methods, data quality, and lessons learned from PMA2020 surveys

By Yoonjoung Choi, Qingfeng Li, Blake Zachary


Background: PMA2020 is a survey platform with resident enumerators using mobile phones. Instead of collecting full birth history, total fertility rates (TFR) have been measured with a limited number of questions on recent births. Employing new approaches provides opportunities to test and advance survey methods.

Objective: This study aims to assess the quality of fertility data in PMA2020 surveys, focusing on bias introduced from the questionnaire and completeness and distribution of birth month and year, and to estimate TFR adjusted for identified data quality issues.

Methods: To assess underestimation from the questionnaire, we simulated births that would be counted using the PMA2020 questionnaires compared to births identified from full birth history. We analyzed the latest Demographic and Health Surveys in ten countries where PMA2020 surveys have been implemented. We assessed the level of reporting completeness for birth month and year and heaping of birth month, analyzing 39 PMA2020 surveys. Finally, TFR were calculated and adjusted for biases introduced from the questionnaire and heaping in birth month.

Results: Simple questions introduced minor bias from undercounting multiple births, which was expected and correctable. Meanwhile, incomplete reporting of birth month was relatively high, and the default value of January in data collection software systematically moved births with missing months out of the reference period. On average across the 39 surveys, TFR increased by 1.6% and 2.4%, adjusted for undercounted multiple births and heaping on January, respectively.

Contribution: This study emphasizes the importance of enumerator training and provides critical insight in software programming in surveys using mobile technologies.

Author's Affiliation

Other articles by the same author/authors in Demographic Research

Does age-adjusted measurement of contraceptive use better explain the relationship between fertility and contraception?
Volume 39 - Article 45

Death distribution methods for estimating adult mortality: Sensitivity analysis with simulated data errors
Volume 21 - Article 9

Neonatal mortality in the developing world
Volume 14 - Article 18

Unconventional approaches to mortality estimation
Volume 13 - Article 12

Most recent similar articles in Demographic Research

Measuring the educational gradient of period fertility in 28 European countries: A new approach based on parity-specific fertility estimates
Volume 49 - Article 34    | Keywords: education, Europe, period fertility, quantum, tempo, total fertility rate (TFR)

Ultra-Orthodox fertility and marriage in the United States: Evidence from the American Community Survey
Volume 49 - Article 29    | Keywords: age at first marriage, American Community Survey (ACS), fertility, Judaism, marriage, religion, total fertility rate (TFR), Ultra-Orthodox Judaism

Calculating contraceptive prevalence and unmet need for family planning in low-fertility countries with the Generations and Gender Survey
Volume 49 - Article 21    | Keywords: cross-national study, Demographic and Health Surveys (DHS), Europe, family planning, Fertility and Family Survey (FFS), Generations and Gender Survey (GGS), longitudinal data, panel data, unplanned births, World Fertility Survey

The quality of fertility data in the web-based Generations and Gender Survey
Volume 49 - Article 3    | Keywords: accuracy, data quality, fertility, Generations and Gender Survey (GGS)

Women's economic empowerment in sub-Saharan Africa: Evidence from cross-national population data
Volume 47 - Article 15    | Keywords: agency, Demographic and Health Surveys (DHS), economic growth, education, employment, sub-Saharan Africa, women's economic independence