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Using Global Positioning Systems in Household Surveys for Better Economics and Better Policy

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  • John Gibson
  • David McKenzie

Abstract

Distance and location are the important determinants of many choices that economists study. Economists often rely on information about these variables that is self-reported by respondents in surveys, although information can sometimes be obtained from secondary sources. Self-reports are typically used for information on distance from households or community centers to roads, markets, schools, clinics, and other public services. There is growing evidence that self-reported distance is measured with error and that these errors are correlated with outcomes of interest. In contrast to self-reports, global positioning systems (GPS) can determine location within 15 m in most cases. The falling cost of GPS receivers makes it increasingly feasible for field surveys to use GPS to more accurately measure location and distance. This article reviews four ways that GPS can lead to better economics and better policy by clarifying policy externalities and spillovers, by improving the understanding of access to services, by improving the collection of household survey data, and by providing data for econometric modeling of the causal impact of policies. Several pitfalls and unresolved problems with using GPS in household surveys are also discussed. Copyright The Author 2007. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development / the world bank . All rights reserved. For permissions, please e-mail: journals.permissions@oxfordjournals.org, Oxford University Press.

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Bibliographic Info

Article provided by World Bank Group in its journal The World Bank Research Observer.

Volume (Year): 22 (2007)
Issue (Month): 2 (September)
Pages: 217-241

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Handle: RePEc:oup:wbrobs:v:22:y:2007:i:2:p:217-241

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Cited by:
  1. Carletto, Calogero & Savastano, Sara & Zezza, Alberto, 2011. "Fact or artefact : the impact of measurement errors on the farm size - productivity relationship," Policy Research Working Paper Series 5908, The World Bank.
  2. McKenzie, David & Woodruff, Christopher, 2013. "What are we learning from business training and entrepreneurship evaluations around the developing world?," CAGE Online Working Paper Series 116, Competitive Advantage in the Global Economy (CAGE).
  3. Henry Overman, 2009. ""Gis a Job": What Use Geographical Information Systems in Spatial Economics?," SERC Discussion Papers 0026, Spatial Economics Research Centre, LSE.
  4. Fafchamps, Marcel & McKenzie, David & Quinn, Simon & Woodruff, Christopher, 2012. "Using PDA consistency checks to increase the precision of profits and sales measurement in panels," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 98(1), pages 51-57.
  5. repec:cge:warwcg:115 is not listed on IDEAS
  6. Dang, Hai-Anh & Rogers, Halsey, 2013. "The decision to invest in child quality over quantity : household size and household investment in education in Vietnam," Policy Research Working Paper Series 6487, The World Bank.
  7. Olivia, Susan & Gibson, John & Smith, Aaron D. & Rozelle, Scott & Deng, Xiangzheng, 2009. "An Empirical Evaluation of Poverty Mapping Methodology: Explicitly Spatial versus Implicitly Spatial Approach," 2009 Conference (53rd), February 11-13, 2009, Cairns, Australia 47651, Australian Agricultural and Resource Economics Society.

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