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Assessing the reliability of household expenditure data: Results of the World Health Survey


  • Xu, Ke
  • Ravndal, Frode
  • Evans, David B.
  • Carrin, Guy


The World Health Survey (WHS) which has been implemented in more than 70 countries with standardized questionnaires opens a great opportunity for research on health care financing issues. This study examines the household expenditures and health expenditure collected in the WHS in terms of reliability, consistency between different ways of data collection within the survey and with other types of household surveys. Data used in this study include 50 WHS and 37 other type of surveys, namely the Living Standard Measurement Survey, Household Budget Survey and Income and Expenditure Survey. The analysis consists of comparison of test-retest results; the aggregated and reported total household expenditure and health expenditure; the expenditures from the WHS and other type of surveys. The results from test-retest are fairly similar in the WHS. For health expenditure the average of reported total is lower than the aggregated total while for household total expenditure the estimate is similar from the two measures. Finally the WHS was found to report lower total household expenditure but higher out-of-pocket expenditure comparing with other types of surveys. The study suggests further efforts to standardize the questions in collecting expenditure data in household surveys for the purpose of cross-country and over time comparison.

Suggested Citation

  • Xu, Ke & Ravndal, Frode & Evans, David B. & Carrin, Guy, 2009. "Assessing the reliability of household expenditure data: Results of the World Health Survey," Health Policy, Elsevier, vol. 91(3), pages 297-305, August.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:hepoli:v:91:y:2009:i:3:p:297-305

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Martin Browning & Thomas F. Crossley & Guglielmo Weber, 2003. "Asking consumption questions in general purpose surveys," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 113(491), pages 540-567, November.
    2. Xu, Ke & Evans, David B. & Kadama, Patrick & Nabyonga, Juliet & Ogwal, Peter Ogwang & Nabukhonzo, Pamela & Aguilar, Ana Mylena, 2006. "Understanding the impact of eliminating user fees: Utilization and catastrophic health expenditures in Uganda," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 62(4), pages 866-876, February.
    3. Anand, Sudhir & Harris, Christopher J, 1994. "Choosing a Welfare Indicator," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 84(2), pages 226-231, May.
    4. Adam Wagstaff & Eddy van Doorslaer, 2003. "Catastrophe and impoverishment in paying for health care: with applications to Vietnam 1993-1998," Health Economics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 12(11), pages 921-933.
    5. Isabel McWhinney & Harold Champion, 1974. "The Canadian Experience With Recall And Diary Methods In Consumer Expenditure Surveys," NBER Chapters,in: Annals of Economic and Social Measurement, Volume 3, number 2, pages 411-437 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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    Cited by:

    1. Calcoen, Piet & Moens, Dirk & Verlinden, Pieter & van de Ven, Wynand P.M.M. & Pacolet, Jozef, 2015. "Improved estimates of Belgian private health expenditure can give important lessons to other OECD countries," Health Policy, Elsevier, vol. 119(3), pages 341-355.
    2. Srivastava, Divya & McGuire, Alistair, 2015. "Patient access to health care and medicines across low-income countries," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 133(C), pages 21-27.
    3. Noreen Goldman & Anne Pebley & Mathew Creighton & Graciela Teruel & Luis Rubalcava & Chang Chung, 2014. "The Consequences of Migration to the United States for Short-Term Changes in the Health of Mexican Immigrants," Demography, Springer;Population Association of America (PAA), vol. 51(4), pages 1159-1173, August.
    4. Carpenter, Anthony & Islam, M. Mofizul & Yen, Laurann & McRae, Ian, 2015. "Affordability of out-of-pocket health care expenses among older Australians," Health Policy, Elsevier, vol. 119(7), pages 907-914.
    5. Romina Boarini & Margherita Comola & Femke Keulenaer & Robert Manchin & Conal Smith, 2013. "Can Governments Boost People’s Sense of Well-Being? The Impact of Selected Labour Market and Health Policies on Life Satisfaction," Social Indicators Research: An International and Interdisciplinary Journal for Quality-of-Life Measurement, Springer, vol. 114(1), pages 105-120, October.
    6. Van de Poel, Ellen & Van Doorslaer, Eddy & O’Donnell, Owen, 2012. "Measurement of inequity in health care with heterogeneous response of use to need," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 31(4), pages 676-689.
    7. Lu, Chunling & Liu, Kai & Li, Lingling & Yang, Yuhong, 2017. "Sensitivity of measuring the progress in financial risk protection to survey design and its socioeconomic and demographic determinants: A case study in Rwanda," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 178(C), pages 11-18.


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