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Validity of rapid estimates of household wealth and income for health surveys in rural Africa


  • Morris, Saul Sutkover
  • Calogero, Carletto
  • Hoddinott, John
  • Christiaensen, Luc J. M.


Drawing data from four different integrated household surveys in rural areas of Mali, Malawi, and two national surveys in Côte d'Ivoire, this paper tests the validity of proxy measures of household wealth and income that can be readily implemented in health surveys in rural Africa. The assumptions underlying the choice of wealth proxy are described, and correlations with the true value are assessed in two different settings. The expenditure proxy is developed and then tested for replicability in two independent data sets representing the same population. The study found that in both Mali and Malawi, the wealth proxy correlated highly (r $ 0.74) with the more complex monetary value method. For rural areas of Côte d'Ivoire, it was possible to generate a list of just 10 expenditure items, the values of which, when summed, correlated highly with expenditures on all items combined (r = 0.74, development data set; r = 0.72, validation data set). Total household expenditure is an accepted alternative measure of household wealth and income in developing country settings. This paper thus shows that it can be feasible to approximate both household wealth and expenditures in rural African settings without dramatically lengthening questionnaires whose primary focus is on health.

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  • Morris, Saul Sutkover & Calogero, Carletto & Hoddinott, John & Christiaensen, Luc J. M., 1999. "Validity of rapid estimates of household wealth and income for health surveys in rural Africa," FCND discussion papers 72, International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI).
  • Handle: RePEc:fpr:fcnddp:72

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Hentschel, J. & Lanjouw, P., 1996. "Constructing an Indicator of Consumption for the Analysis of Poverty. Principles and Illustrations with Reference to Ecuador," Papers 127, World Bank - Living Standards Measurement.
    2. repec:aph:ajpbhl:10.2105/ajph.87.9.1409_2 is not listed on IDEAS
    3. Defo, Barthélémy Kuate, 1997. "Effects of socioeconomic disadvantage and women's status on women's health in Cameroon," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 44(7), pages 1023-1042, April.
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    Cited by:

    1. Nava Ashraf & James Berry & Jesse M. Shapiro, 2010. "Can Higher Prices Stimulate Product Use? Evidence from a Field Experiment in Zambia," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 100(5), pages 2383-2413, December.
    2. Makoka, Donald, 2009. "Do rural households smooth their consumption? Applying an asset-based approach to the case of Malawi," MPRA Paper 15398, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    3. Deon Filmer & Kinnon Scott, 2012. "Assessing Asset Indices," Demography, Springer;Population Association of America (PAA), vol. 49(1), pages 359-392, February.
    4. Hoda El Enbaby & Rami Galal, 2015. "Inequality of Opportunity in Individuals' Wages and Households' Assets in Egypt," Working Papers 942, Economic Research Forum, revised Sep 2015.
    5. Mauro Migotto & Benjamin Davis & Gero Carletto & Kathleen Beegle, 2005. "Measuring Food Security Using Respondents’ Perception of Food Consumption Adequacy," Working Papers 05-10, Agricultural and Development Economics Division of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO - ESA).
    6. Zeller, Manfred & Sharma, Manohar & Lapenu, Cécile & Henry, Carla, 2001. "An operational tool for evaluating poverty outreach of development policies and projects," FCND discussion papers 111, International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI).
    7. Gutner, Tammi, 1999. "The political economy of Food subsidy reform in Egypt," FCND briefs 1, International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI).
    8. John Sender, 2000. "Struggles To Escape Poverty In South Africa: Results From A Purposive Rural Survey," Working Papers 107, Department of Economics, SOAS, University of London, UK.
    9. Hagen-Zanker, Jessica, 2010. "Modest expectations: Causes and effects of migration on migrant households in source countries," MPRA Paper 29507, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    10. Adam Wagstaff & Naoko Watanabe, 2003. "What difference does the choice of SES make in health inequality measurement?," Health Economics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 12(10), pages 885-890.
    11. June Y. T. Po & Jocelyn E. Finlay & Mark B. Brewster & David Canning, 2012. "Estimating Household Permanent Income from Ownership of Physical Assets," PGDA Working Papers 9712, Program on the Global Demography of Aging.


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