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The methodological challenge of monitoring living conditions. Insights from a tracking experience in Madagascar


  • Julia Vaillant

    () (Université Paris Dauphine, LEDa UMR 225 DIAL, IRD)


(english) Most longitudinal surveys recontact households only if they are still living in the same dwelling, producing very high attrition rates, especially in developing countries where rural-urban migration is prevalent. In this paper, we discuss the implications of the various follow-up rules used in longitudinal surveys in the light of an original tracking survey from Madagascar. This survey attempted in 2005 to search and interview all individuals who were living in the village of Bepako in 1995, the baseline year of a yearly survey, the Rural Observatories. The tracking survey yielded an individual recontact rate of 78.8%, more than halving attrition compared to a standard dwelling-based follow-up rule. The tracking reveals a very high rate of out-migration (38.8%) and household break-ups, as three quarters of recontacted households had divided between 1995 and 2005. The average income growth of the sample over the period increases by 28 percentage points when follow-up is extended to those who moved out of their household or village, suggesting that dwelling-based panels give a partial view of the welfare dynamics of the baseline sample. A higher baseline income per capita is associated with a higher probability of staying in Bepako and of being found in the tracking if one moved out. The hardest people to find are the poorest and most isolated. Special attention should be paid to collecting data that enable the identification and follow-up of individuals without which attrition is likely to remain a source of bias even after a tracking procedure is carried out. _________________________________ (français) La plupart des enquêtes en panel ne recontactent les ménages enquêtés que s'ils vivent toujours dans le même logement, ce qui créé des taux d'attrition très élevés, en particulier dans les pays en développement où la migration vers les villes est importante. Dans cet article, nous discutons les implications des différentes règles de suivi utilisées dans les enquêtes longitudinales à la lumière d'une enquête tracking originale réalisées à Madagascar. Cet enquête a tenté, en 2005, de chercher et enquêter tous les individus originaires de Bepako, où une enquête annuelle est réalisée depuis 1995 (Observatoires Ruraux). Ce dispositif a permis de recontacter 78.8% des individus, réduisant ainsi de plus de moitié l'attrition par rapport à un suivi des individus basé sur le logement. Le tracking révèle un taux de migration très élevé (38.8%) et d'importantes recompositions et divisions de ménages, puisque les trois quarts des ménages recontactés s'étaient divisés entre 1995 et 2005. La croissance du revenu moyenne dans l'échantillon sur la période augmente de 28 points de pourcentage lorsque le suivi est étendu à ceux ayant changé de ménage ou de lieu de résidence, suggérant que les panels basés sur le lieu de résidence génèrent une vue partielle de la dynamique des revenus de l'échantillon initial. Un revenu par tête initial plus élevé est associé à une probabilité plus forte de rester à Bepako ou d'être retrouvé lors du tracking. Les personnes les plus difficiles à retrouver sont les plus pauvres et isolées. Une attention particulière doit être portée à la collecte d'information permettant d'identifier et de réenquêter les individus, sans laquelle il est probable que l'attrition restera une source de biais, même après avoir réalisé une enquête tracking.

Suggested Citation

  • Julia Vaillant, 2010. "The methodological challenge of monitoring living conditions. Insights from a tracking experience in Madagascar," Working Papers DT/2010/13, DIAL (Développement, Institutions et Mondialisation).
  • Handle: RePEc:dia:wpaper:dt201013

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    Panel data; tracking surveys; attrition; mobility.;

    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
    • I32 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Welfare, Well-Being, and Poverty - - - Measurement and Analysis of Poverty
    • O12 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Microeconomic Analyses of Economic Development
    • O15 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Economic Development: Human Resources; Human Development; Income Distribution; Migration

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