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How accurate are recall data ? evidence from coastal India

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  • de Nicola, Francesca
  • Gine, Xavier

Abstract

This paper investigates the accuracy of recall data by comparing administrative records with retrospective, self-reported survey responses to income and asset questions for a sample of self-employed households from coastal India. It finds that the magnitude of the recall error increases over time, in part because respondents rely less on memory and instead infer earnings based on past earnings. Individuals tend to recall monthly earnings more accurately when they are higher than the median. These results imply that the variance estimated from the self-reported earnings distribution will be lower than the real one. The paper also finds that data reported by income earners are more accurate than those by their wives. In addition, the use of time cues can worsen accuracy if they are not relevant to the respondent. Where the recall questions are placed in the two-hour long survey, however, does not affect accuracy.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by The World Bank in its series Policy Research Working Paper Series with number 6009.

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Date of creation: 01 Mar 2012
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Handle: RePEc:wbk:wbrwps:6009

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Keywords: Access to Finance; Statistical&Mathematical Sciences; Educational Sciences; Fiscal&Monetary Policy; Economic Theory&Research;

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  1. Delavande, Adeline & Gine, Xavier & McKenzie, David, 2009. "Measuring Subjective Expectations in Developing Countries: A Critical Review and New Evidence," Policy Research Working Paper Series 4824, The World Bank.
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  9. Akee, Randall K. Q., 2007. "Errors in Self-Reported Earnings: The Role of Previous Earnings Volatility," IZA Discussion Papers 3263, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
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  11. Beegle, Kathleen & Carletto, Calogero & Himelein, Kristen, 2011. "Reliability of recall in agricultural data," Policy Research Working Paper Series 5671, The World Bank.
  12. Megan Beckett & Julie Da Vanzo & Narayan Sastry & Constantijn Panis & Christine Peterson, 2001. "The Quality of Retrospective Data: An Examination of Long-Term Recall in a Developing Country," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 36(3), pages 593-625.
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  22. Bound, John & Brown, Charles & Mathiowetz, Nancy, 2001. "Measurement error in survey data," Handbook of Econometrics, in: J.J. Heckman & E.E. Leamer (ed.), Handbook of Econometrics, edition 1, volume 5, chapter 59, pages 3705-3843 Elsevier.
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