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Do household definitions matter in survey design? Results from a randomized survey experiment in Mali

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  • Beaman, Lori
  • Dillon, Andrew

Abstract

Household definitions used in multi-topic household surveys vary between surveys but have potentially significant implications for household composition, production, and poverty statistics. Standard definitions of the household usually include some intersection of keywords relating to residency requirements, common food consumption, and intermingling of income or production decisions. Despite best practices intending to standardize the definition of the household, it is unclear which types of definitions or which intersections of keywords in a definition result in different household compositions. This paper conducts a randomized survey experiment of four different household definitions in Mali to examine the implications for household-level statistics. This approach permits analysis of the trade-offs between alternative definition types. We find that additional keywords in definitions increase rather than decrease household size and significantly alters household composition. Definitions emphasizing common consumption or joint production increase estimates of the levels of household assets and consumption statistics, but not on per adult equivalency asset and consumption statistics, relative to open-ended definitions of the household. In contrast, definition type did not affect production statistics in levels, though we observe significant differences in per adult equivalency terms. Our findings suggest that variations in household definition have implications for measuring household welfare and production.

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Bibliographic Info

Article provided by Elsevier in its journal Journal of Development Economics.

Volume (Year): 98 (2012)
Issue (Month): 1 ()
Pages: 124-135

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Handle: RePEc:eee:deveco:v:98:y:2012:i:1:p:124-135

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Web page: http://www.elsevier.com/locate/devec

Related research

Keywords: Household definition; Randomized experiment; Assets; Consumption;

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References

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  1. Angus Deaton & Salman Zaidi, 1999. "Guidelines for Constructing Consumption Aggregates For Welfare Analysis," Working Papers 217, Princeton University, Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs, Research Program in Development Studies..
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Cited by:
  1. Alkire, Sabina & Meinzen-Dick, Ruth & Peterman, Amber & Quisumbing, Agnes & Seymour, Greg & Vaz, Ana, 2013. "The Women’s Empowerment in Agriculture Index," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 52(C), pages 71-91.
  2. Ragui Assaad & Caroline Krafft, 2013. "The Egypt labor market panel survey: introducing the 2012 round," IZA Journal of Labor & Development, Springer, vol. 2(1), pages 1-30, December.
  3. Alkire, Sabina & Meinzen-Dick, Ruth Suseela & Peterman, Amber & Quisumbing, Agnes R. & Seymour, Greg & Vaz, Ana, 2012. "The Women’s Empowerment in Agriculture Index:," IFPRI discussion papers 1240, International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI).

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