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Ratio of young respondents rises with new survey method using SMS

TOKYO -- Young people are more likely to respond to surveys when polled via mobile phone text messaging rather than via phone calls or other conventional methods, a Japanese study suggests.

A joint experiment by Saitama University Social Survey Research Center and research agency Green Ship Co. found that a poll using short message service (SMS) texts on mobile devices achieved a higher proportion of young respondents that conventional polling methods had achieved in the past.

"This survey method tailored to respondents appears to have been welcomed by young voters, who have become familiar with the use of smartphones," speculated research center head professor Masao Matsumoto.

According to Matsumoto, people aged in their teens and 20s made up approximately 15% of the respondents to an experimental opinion poll carried out by the two organizations, which was 1 percentage point higher than the proportion of those in this age group in the fiscal 2015 census.

In the experiment, researchers made calls to random phone numbers created by a computer using interactive voice responses. The web address of an online survey was sent via SMS to those who agreed to participate. The poll was conducted once a month from April to December last year, a total of nine times, to collect 1,500 to 2,000 answers.

In current surveys carried out by the press, media organizations call random phone numbers created by computers and ask people to answer questionnaires over the phone. Such phone calls were made to mobile phones in addition to landline telephones starting around 2016 in a bid to incorporate the views of younger generations. These surveys, however, tend to have a lower ratio of young respondents compared to the ratio of people in the same age group as shown by the census.

Matsumoto expressed hope over the possibility that the new survey method using SMS may be an alternative to the current method of conducting surveys over the phone.

The research paper on the experiment was run in the academic journal "Policy & Research No. 16," published by the research center in March this year.

(Japanese original by Shingo Okuma, Poll Office)

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