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From design to practice: how can large-scale household surveys better represent the complexities of the social units under investigation?

Author

Listed:
  • Kriel, Antoinette
  • Randall, Sara
  • Coast, Ernestina
  • de Clercq, Bernadene

Abstract

The way in which ‘the household’ is defined and operationalised in surveys and census data collection has long been criticised as unable to adequately capture the complexities of the social units within which people live. In a South African national survey on household wealth (HWS) a definition of the household was used to rep-resent the ways in which South African households arrange themselves financially. Here we report on a qualitative study in which 36 households originally included in the HWS were re-interviewed to collect detailed data on household financial links and dependencies. Households with more complex structures, which represent the majority of household types in South Africa, were very poorly represented, and possible reasons for this are explored. We analyse and discuss the HWS research process in the light of the findings of this study, and propose ways to improve large-scale survey design and data collection, drawing on perspectives from multiple disciplines.

Suggested Citation

  • Kriel, Antoinette & Randall, Sara & Coast, Ernestina & de Clercq, Bernadene, 2014. "From design to practice: how can large-scale household surveys better represent the complexities of the social units under investigation?," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 59737, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.
  • Handle: RePEc:ehl:lserod:59737
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    File URL: http://eprints.lse.ac.uk/59737/
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    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. 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.
    2. Fisher, Monica & Reimer, Jeffrey J. & Carr, Edward R., 2010. "Who Should be Interviewed in Surveys of Household Income?," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 38(7), pages 966-973, July.
    3. Peter Little & M. Priscilla Stone & Tewodaj Mogues & A. Peter Castro & Workneh Negatu, 2006. "'Moving in place': Drought and poverty dynamics in South Wollo, Ethiopia," Journal of Development Studies, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 42(2), pages 200-225.
    4. Ann Whitehead, 2006. "Persistent poverty in North East Ghana," Journal of Development Studies, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 42(2), pages 278-300.
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    Cited by:

    1. Enid Schatz & Nicole Angotti & Sangeetha Madhavan & Christie Sennott, 2015. "Working with teams of "insiders"," Demographic Research, Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research, Rostock, Germany, vol. 32(12), pages 369-396, February.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    quantitative household survey concepts; organisational and structural complexity; representativeness;

    JEL classification:

    • R14 - Urban, Rural, Regional, Real Estate, and Transportation Economics - - General Regional Economics - - - Land Use Patterns
    • J01 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - General - - - Labor Economics: General

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