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Measuring the return on household enterprise: What matters most for whom?

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  • Samphantharak, Krislert
  • Townsend, Robert M.

Abstract

Return on assets (ROA) of household enterprise is crucial for understanding the productivity of households in developing economies. Yet the definition and measurement of household enterprise ROA remain inconsistent or unclear. We illustrate potential measurement problems with examples from various surveys. We take advantage of a detailed household survey and analyze what matters and for whom. The three issues that matter most for measurement of household enterprise ROA are the choice of accrual versus cash income, the treatment of household labor in enterprise income, and the treatment of non-factor income. This sensitivity matters most for a poorer region dominated by cultivation relative to a richer region with non-farm enterprises. Though the choice between accrued and cash income matters less when the frequency of the data declines, there remains high sensitivity in annualized data. We provide recommendations on how to improve the survey questionnaires for more accurate measurement in field research.

Suggested Citation

  • 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.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:deveco:v:98:y:2012:i:1:p:58-70
    DOI: 10.1016/j.jdeveco.2011.09.001
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Esther Duflo & Michael Kremer & Jonathan Robinson, 2008. "How High Are Rates of Return to Fertilizer? Evidence from Field Experiments in Kenya," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 98(2), pages 482-488, May.
    2. 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.
    3. de Mel, Suresh & McKenzie, David J. & Woodruff, Christopher, 2009. "Measuring microenterprise profits: Must we ask how the sausage is made?," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 88(1), pages 19-31, January.
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    5. Dillon, Andrew & Bardasi, Elena & Beegle, Kathleen & Serneels, Pieter, 2012. "Explaining variation in child labor statistics," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 98(1), pages 136-147.
    6. David McKenzie & Christopher Woodruff, 2008. "Experimental Evidence on Returns to Capital and Access to Finance in Mexico," World Bank Economic Review, World Bank Group, vol. 22(3), pages 457-482, November.
    7. Hart, Oliver, 1995. "Firms, Contracts, and Financial Structure," OUP Catalogue, Oxford University Press, number 9780198288817.
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    Cited by:

    1. Krislert Samphantharak & Robert M. Townsend, 2018. "Risk and Return in Village Economies," American Economic Journal: Microeconomics, American Economic Association, vol. 10(1), pages 1-40, February.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Return on assets; Household enterprise; Measurement; Income; Assets; Survey; Questionnaire design;

    JEL classification:

    • O10 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - General
    • O12 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Microeconomic Analyses of Economic Development
    • O16 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Financial Markets; Saving and Capital Investment; Corporate Finance and Governance

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