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Same Question But Different Answer: Experimental Evidence on Questionnaire Design's Impact on Poverty Measured by Proxies

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  • Talip Kilic
  • Thomas Pave Sohnesen

Abstract

Based on a randomized survey experiment that was implemented in Malawi, the study finds that observationally‐equivalent, as well as same, households answer the same questions differently depending on whether they are interviewed with a short questionnaire or its longer counterpart. Statistically significant differences in reporting emerge across all topics and question types. In proxy‐based poverty measurement, these reporting differences lead to significantly different predicted poverty rates and Gini coefficients. The difference in poverty predictions ranges from 3 to 7 percentage points, depending on the model specification. A prediction model based only on the proxies that are elicited prior to the variation in questionnaire design yields identical poverty predictions irrespective of the short‐versus‐long questionnaire treatment. The results are relevant for estimating trends with questionnaires exhibiting inter‐temporal variation in design, impact evaluations administering questionnaires of different length and complexity to treatment and control samples, and development programs utilizing proxy‐means tests for targeting.

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  • Talip Kilic & Thomas Pave Sohnesen, 2019. "Same Question But Different Answer: Experimental Evidence on Questionnaire Design's Impact on Poverty Measured by Proxies," Review of Income and Wealth, International Association for Research in Income and Wealth, vol. 65(1), pages 144-165, March.
  • Handle: RePEc:bla:revinw:v:65:y:2019:i:1:p:144-165
    DOI: 10.1111/roiw.12343
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    Cited by:

    1. Brown, Caitlin & Ravallion, Martin & van de Walle, Dominique, 2018. "A poor means test? Econometric targeting in Africa," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 134(C), pages 109-124.
    2. Joachim De Weerdt & John Gibson & Kathleen Beegle, 2020. "What Can We Learn from Experimenting with Survey Methods?," Annual Review of Resource Economics, Annual Reviews, vol. 12(1), pages 431-447, October.
    3. Fiala, Nathan & Masselus, Lise, 2022. "Whom to ask? Testing respondent effects in household surveys," Ruhr Economic Papers 935, RWI - Leibniz-Institut für Wirtschaftsforschung, Ruhr-University Bochum, TU Dortmund University, University of Duisburg-Essen.
    4. Astrid Mathiassen & Bjørn K. Wold, 2019. "Challenges in predicting poverty trends using survey to survey imputation. Experiences from Malawi," Discussion Papers 900, Statistics Norway, Research Department.
    5. Pave Sohnesen,Thomas & Stender,Niels, 2016. "Is random forest a superior methodology for predicting poverty ? an empirical assessment," Policy Research Working Paper Series 7612, The World Bank.
    6. Ligon, Ethan & Christiaensen, Luc & Sohnesen, Thomas P, 2020. "Should Consumption Sub-Aggregates be Used to Measure Poverty?," Department of Agricultural & Resource Economics, UC Berkeley, Working Paper Series qt9b9929jh, Department of Agricultural & Resource Economics, UC Berkeley.

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