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Do household definitions matter in survey design? Results from a randomized survey experiment in Mali

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  • Beaman, Lori
  • Dillon, Andrew

Abstract

Household definitions used in multi-topic household surveys vary between surveys but have potentially significant implications for household composition, production, and poverty statistics. Standard definitions of the household usually include some intersection of keywords relating to residency requirements, common food consumption, and intermingling of income or production decisions. Despite best practices intending to standardize the definition of the household, it is unclear which types of definitions or which intersections of keywords in a definition result in different household compositions. This paper conducts a randomized survey experiment of four different household definitions in Mali to examine the implications for household-level statistics. This approach permits analysis of the trade-offs between alternative definition types. We find that additional keywords in definitions increase rather than decrease household size and significantly alters household composition. Definitions emphasizing common consumption or joint production increase estimates of the levels of household assets and consumption statistics, but not on per adult equivalency asset and consumption statistics, relative to open-ended definitions of the household. In contrast, definition type did not affect production statistics in levels, though we observe significant differences in per adult equivalency terms. Our findings suggest that variations in household definition have implications for measuring household welfare and production.

Suggested Citation

  • Beaman, Lori & Dillon, Andrew, 2012. "Do household definitions matter in survey design? Results from a randomized survey experiment in Mali," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 98(1), pages 124-135.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:deveco:v:98:y:2012:i:1:p:124-135
    DOI: 10.1016/j.jdeveco.2011.06.005
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Alkire, Sabina & Meinzen-Dick, Ruth Suseela & Peterman, Amber & Quisumbing, Agnes R. & Seymour, Greg & Vaz, Ana, 2012. "The Women’s Empowerment in Agriculture Index:," IFPRI discussion papers 1240, International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI).
    2. Kriel, Antoinette & Randall, Sara & Coast, Ernestina & de Clercq, Bernadene, 2014. "From design to practice: how can large-scale household surveys better represent the complexities of the social units under investigation?," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 59737, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.
    3. Ernestina Coast & Alex Fanghanel & Eva Lelièvre & Sara Randall, 2016. "Counting the Population or Describing Society? A Comparison of English and Welsh and French Censuses," European Journal of Population, Springer;European Association for Population Studies, vol. 32(2), pages 165-188, May.
    4. Samphantharak, Krislert & Townsend, Robert M., 2012. "Measuring the return on household enterprise: What matters most for whom?," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 98(1), pages 58-70.
    5. Alkire, Sabina & Meinzen-Dick, Ruth & Peterman, Amber & Quisumbing, Agnes & Seymour, Greg & Vaz, Ana, 2013. "The Women’s Empowerment in Agriculture Index," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 52(C), pages 71-91.
    6. Ouedraogo, Aissatou & Dillon, Andrew & Porter, Maria, "undated". "How Do Nuclear and Extended-Family Households Differ in Labor Allocation Decisions due to Agricultural Technology Adoption? Evidence from Burkina Faso," 2016 Annual Meeting, July 31-August 2, 2016, Boston, Massachusetts 236123, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association.
    7. Ragui Assaad & Caroline Krafft, 2013. "The Egypt labor market panel survey: introducing the 2012 round," IZA Journal of Labor & Development, Springer;Forschungsinstitut zur Zukunft der Arbeit GmbH (IZA), vol. 2(1), pages 1-30, December.
    8. Forrest, Tamar Mott & Wallace-Pascoe, Dawn M. & Webb, Michael D. & Goldstein, Howard, 2017. "Giving the community a voice: Lessons learned from a comprehensive survey in an urban neighborhood," Evaluation and Program Planning, Elsevier, vol. 60(C), pages 130-142.
    9. Ollenburger, Mary H. & Descheemaeker, Katrien & Crane, Todd A. & Sanogo, Ousmane M. & Giller, Ken E., 2016. "Waking the Sleeping Giant: Agricultural intensification, extensification or stagnation in Mali's Guinea Savannah," Agricultural Systems, Elsevier, vol. 148(C), pages 58-70.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Household definition; Randomized experiment; Assets; Consumption;

    JEL classification:

    • C81 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Data Collection and Data Estimation Methodology; Computer Programs - - - Methodology for Collecting, Estimating, and Organizing Microeconomic Data; Data Access
    • C93 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Design of Experiments - - - Field Experiments
    • J12 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Marriage; Marital Dissolution; Family Structure

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