IDEAS home Printed from
   My bibliography  Save this paper

Are female employment statistics more sensitive than male ones to questionnaire design? Evidence from Cameroon, Mali and Senegal


  • Virginie Comblon

    () (Universite Paris-Dauphine, PSL Research University, IRD, LEDa, DIAL, 75016 PARIS, FRANCE)

  • Anne-Sophie Robilliard

    () (IRD, LEDa, DIAL UMR 225, 75010 Paris, France)


This paper investigates the effect of several survey questionnaire characteristics on employment statistics. It also assess the differences in sensitivity to survey design across gender and living area. Indeed, as suggested in the literature, women, especially those living in rural areas, are expected to be more sensitive than men to survey design, due to both the nature of the work (seasonal, occasional, temporary, informal, unpaid family work) and social norms. In many African countries, labor force surveys are not available on a regular basis and the way existing household surveys and census measure employment differs greatly, both over time and between countries. This makes it difficult to properly study labor market dynamics and to draw meaningful policy recommendations. Using about fifty surveys and censuses collected in Cameroon, Mali and Senegal between 1976 and 2012, we first review the diversity of survey instruments used and highlight the key questionnaire characteristics that are likely to affect employment statistics. Exploiting within-survey variations of the wording of questions, the detail of the labor module and the length of the reference period, we then assess the effect of these features on labor statistics. Empirical results shows significant effects of each questionnaire feature and suggest that women are not systematically more sensitive than men to survey design, nor is it the case for rural individuals compared to urban ones.

Suggested Citation

  • Virginie Comblon & Anne-Sophie Robilliard, 2015. "Are female employment statistics more sensitive than male ones to questionnaire design? Evidence from Cameroon, Mali and Senegal," Working Papers DT/2015/22, DIAL (Développement, Institutions et Mondialisation).
  • Handle: RePEc:dia:wpaper:dt201522

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL:
    File Function: First version, 2015
    Download Restriction: no

    References listed on IDEAS

    1. 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.
    2. repec:ilo:ilowps:343981 is not listed on IDEAS
    3. Dammert, Ana C. & Galdo, Jose, 2013. "Child Labor Variation by Type of Respondent: Evidence from a Large-Scale Study," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 51(C), pages 207-220.
    4. Ray Langsten & Rania Salen, 2008. "Two Approaches to Measuring Women's Work in Developing Countries: A Comparison of Survey Data from Egypt," Population and Development Review, The Population Council, Inc., vol. 34(2), pages 283-305.
    5. Bardasi, Elena & Beegle, Kathleen & Dillon, Andrew & Serneels, Pieter, 2010. "Do labor statistics depend on how and to whom the questions are asked ? results from a survey experiment in Tanzania," Policy Research Working Paper Series 5192, The World Bank.
    6. repec:dau:papers:123456789/10921 is not listed on IDEAS
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    More about this item


    Employment statistics; Survey design; Gender; Data comparability; Sub-Saharan Africa;

    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
    • C83 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Data Collection and Data Estimation Methodology; Computer Programs - - - Survey Methods; Sampling Methods
    • J21 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Labor Force and Employment, Size, and Structure
    • J71 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Labor Discrimination - - - Hiring and Firing
    • O55 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economywide Country Studies - - - Africa

    NEP fields

    This paper has been announced in the following NEP Reports:


    Access and download statistics


    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:dia:wpaper:dt201522. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Loic Le Pezennec). General contact details of provider: .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    If CitEc recognized a reference but did not link an item in RePEc to it, you can help with this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.