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Asking Retrospective Questions in Household Surveys: Evidence from Vietnam


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  • NAKATA Hiroyuki
  • SAWADA Yasuyuki
  • TANAKA Mari


Asking retrospective questions about consumption and income has become an important part of household surveys and research in developing countries. While recall errors in retrospective data may generate estimation biases, the nature and the magnitude of the errors are largely unknown, especially in the context of developing countries. To fill this gap in the existing studies, we collect unique household data from Vietnam, a resurvey of respondents of the Vietnam Health and Living Standard Survey (VHLSS) 2006. This combined data allows us to investigate a variety of errors associated with recall surveys and the size of consumption categories in questionnaires. Our empirical results suggest that asking for total expenditure, rather than categorical expenditure, will cause fewer recall errors in a retrospective survey. This is especially true in the case of purchased or bartered consumption expenditure. Our results also suggest that while recall errors in the categorical sum of expenditure may exhibit mean-reverting patterns, retrospective total expenditure data is less likely to involve problems of mean reverting measurement error.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Research Institute of Economy, Trade and Industry (RIETI) in its series Discussion papers with number 10008.

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Length: 39 pages
Date of creation: Feb 2010
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:eti:dpaper:10008

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Cited by:
  1. Chiripanhura, Blessing M. & Nino-Zarazua, Miguel, 2013. "The impacts of the food, fuel and financial crises on households in Nigeria: A retrospective approach for research enquiry," Working Paper Series, World Institute for Development Economic Research (UNU-WIDER) UNU-WIDER Research Paper , World Institute for Development Economic Research (UNU-WIDER).
  2. SAWADA Yasuyuki & NAKATA Hiroyuki & KOTERA Tomoaki, 2011. "Self-Production, Friction, and Risk Sharing against Disasters: Evidence from a developing country," Discussion papers, Research Institute of Economy, Trade and Industry (RIETI) 11017, Research Institute of Economy, Trade and Industry (RIETI).


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