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Are we measuring what we want to measure?


  • FFF1Simona NNN1Bignami-Van Assche

    (Université de Montréal)


The social context of survey interviews is likely to be important in survey measurement in developing countries, where respondents expect to benefit from participation. In the recent literature on survey measurement, however, there are few attempts to analyze the impact of the respondents’ social context on response error, and they tend to be limited to developed countries. This paper follows the narrow path traced by these attempts. The opportunity for this study is offered by a set of 134 unplanned re-interviews collected during the fieldwork operations of a household panel survey in rural Malawi. Personal benefit was the main reason some respondents were willing to be re-interviewed, since the survey compensated them with an additional gift for the second interview. By comparing the answers to the first and second interview given by the re-interviewed respondents, this paper therefore assesses how the search for personal benefit (which captures some aspects of the respondents’ social context) biased the results.

Suggested Citation

  • FFF1Simona NNN1Bignami-Van Assche, 2003. "Are we measuring what we want to measure?," Demographic Research Special Collections, Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research, Rostock, Germany, vol. 1(3), pages 77-108, September.
  • Handle: RePEc:dem:drspec:v:1:y:2003:i:3

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Sean Becketti & William Gould & Lee Lillard & Finis Welch, 1985. "The Panel Study of Income Dynamics After Fourteen Years: An Evaluation," UCLA Economics Working Papers 361, UCLA Department of Economics.
    2. Becketti, Sean, et al, 1988. "The Panel Study of Income Dynamics after Fourteen Years: An Evaluatio n," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 6(4), pages 472-492, October.
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    Cited by:

    1. Michelle Poulin, 2010. "Reporting on first sexual experience," Demographic Research, Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research, Rostock, Germany, vol. 22(11), pages 237-288, March.
    2. Jimi Adams & Jenny Trinitapoli, 2009. "The Malawi Religion Project:," Demographic Research, Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research, Rostock, Germany, vol. 21(10), pages 255-288, September.

    More about this item


    consistency; HIV/AIDS; Malawi; response reliability; social interaction; survey measurement; surveys;

    JEL classification:

    • J1 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics
    • Z0 - Other Special Topics - - General


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