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Measuring Inequalities: Do Household Surveys Paint A Realistic Picture?


  • Charlotte Guénard
  • Sandrine Mesplé-Somps


The paper addresses the issue of the accuracy of standard-of-living measurements using household survey data. First, it highlights the fact that lighter data collection processes in some developing countries have added to measurement errors in consumption and income aggregates measurement errors. The paper reasserts the need to apply reference guidelines to the measurement of household consumption in order to compute comparable distribution indicators across countries and over time. Second, it contends that it is hard to analyze inequality solely from consumption patterns without taking income and savings into account. Two solutions are proposed for the correction of income measurement errors: by using savings declarations and by implementing a multiple imputation procedure. The results are based on a careful analysis of the EPM93 survey of Madagascar whose design is quite close to the LSMS household surveys, and the ENV98 survey of Côte d'Ivoire representative of surveys conducted nowadays in most Sub-Saharan African countries. Copyright 2010 The Authors. Review of Income and Wealth 2010 International Association for Research in Income and Wealth.

Suggested Citation

  • Charlotte Guénard & Sandrine Mesplé-Somps, 2010. "Measuring Inequalities: Do Household Surveys Paint A Realistic Picture?," Review of Income and Wealth, International Association for Research in Income and Wealth, vol. 56(3), pages 519-538, September.
  • Handle: RePEc:bla:revinw:v:56:y:2010:i:3:p:519-538

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Ohlsson, Henry & Roine, Jesper & Waldenstrom, Daniel, 2006. "Long-Run Changes in the Concentration of Wealth: An Overview of Recent Findings," WIDER Working Paper Series 103, World Institute for Development Economic Research (UNU-WIDER).
    2. Facundo Alvaredo & Emmanuel Saez, 2009. "Income and Wealth Concentration in Spain from a Historical and Fiscal Perspective," Journal of the European Economic Association, MIT Press, vol. 7(5), pages 1140-1167, September.
    3. Gastwirth, Joseph L, 1972. "The Estimation of the Lorenz Curve and Gini Index," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 54(3), pages 306-316, August.
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    Cited by:

    1. Ulrik Beck, 2015. "Keep it real: Measuring real inequality using survey data from developing countries," WIDER Working Paper Series 133, World Institute for Development Economic Research (UNU-WIDER).
    2. Derek Yu, 2013. "Some factors influencing the comparability and reliability of poverty estimates across household surveys," Working Papers 03/2013, Stellenbosch University, Department of Economics.

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