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Same Question but Different Answer Experimental Evidence on Questionnaire Design's Impact on Pverty Measured by Proxies

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  • Kilic, Talip
  • Sohnesen, Thomas

Abstract

Does the same question asked of the same population yield the same answer in face-to-face interviews when other parts of the questionnaire are altered? If not, what would be the implications for proxy-based poverty measurement? Relying on a randomized household survey experiment implemented in Malawi, this study finds that observationally equivalent as well as same households answer the same questions differently when interviewed with a short questionnaire versus the longer counterpart that, in a prior survey round, would have informed the prediction model for a proxy-based poverty measurement exercise. The analysis yields statistically significant differences in reporting between the short and long questionnaires across all topics and types of questions. The reporting differences result in significantly different predicted poverty rates and Gini coefficients. While the difference in predictions ranges from approximately 3 to 7 percentage points depending on the model specification, restricting the proxies to those collected prior the variation in questionnaire design, namely demographic variables from the household roster and location fixed effects, leads to same predictions in both samples. The findings emphasize the need for further methodological research, and suggest that short questionnaires designed for proxy-based poverty measurement should be piloted, prior to implementation, in parallel with the longer questionnaire from which they have evolved. The fact that at the median it took 25 minutes to complete the food and non-food consumption sections in the long questionnaire also implies that the implementation of these sections might not be as overly costly as usually assumed.

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  • Kilic, Talip & Sohnesen, Thomas, 2015. "Same Question but Different Answer Experimental Evidence on Questionnaire Design's Impact on Pverty Measured by Proxies," 2015 Conference, August 9-14, 2015, Milan, Italy 211850, International Association of Agricultural Economists.
  • Handle: RePEc:ags:iaae15:211850
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Tarozzi, Alessandro, 2007. "Calculating Comparable Statistics From Incomparable Surveys, With an Application to Poverty in India," Journal of Business & Economic Statistics, American Statistical Association, vol. 25, pages 314-336, July.
    2. Houssou, Nazaire & Zeller, Manfred, 2011. "To target or not to target? The costs, benefits, and impacts of indicator-based targeting," Food Policy, Elsevier, vol. 36(5), pages 626-636, October.
    3. Beegle, Kathleen & De Weerdt, Joachim & Friedman, Jed & Gibson, John, 2012. "Methods of household consumption measurement through surveys: Experimental results from Tanzania," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 98(1), pages 3-18.
    4. Frauke Kreuter & Susan McCulloch & Stanley Presser & Roger Tourangeau, 2011. "The Effects of Asking Filter Questions in Interleafed Versus Grouped Format," Sociological Methods & Research, , vol. 40(1), pages 88-104, February.
    5. Mohamed Douidich & Abdeljaouad Ezzrari & Roy Van der Weide & Paolo Verme, 2016. "Estimating Quarterly Poverty Rates Using Labor Force Surveys: A Primer," World Bank Economic Review, World Bank Group, vol. 30(3), pages 475-500.
    6. Bound, John & Brown, Charles & Mathiowetz, Nancy, 2001. "Measurement error in survey data," Handbook of Econometrics,in: J.J. Heckman & E.E. Leamer (ed.), Handbook of Econometrics, edition 1, volume 5, chapter 59, pages 3705-3843 Elsevier.
    7. Astrid Mathiassen, 2013. "Testing Prediction Performance of Poverty Models: Empirical Evidence from U ganda," Review of Income and Wealth, International Association for Research in Income and Wealth, vol. 59(1), pages 91-112, March.
    8. Luc Christiaensen & Peter Lanjouw & Jill Luoto & David Stifel, 2012. "Small area estimation-based prediction methods to track poverty: validation and applications," The Journal of Economic Inequality, Springer;Society for the Study of Economic Inequality, vol. 10(2), pages 267-297, June.
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    Cited by:

    1. 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.

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    Keywords

    Agricultural and Food Policy;

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