IDEAS home Printed from
   My bibliography  Save this paper

Estimating Comparable Poverty Counts from Incomparable Surveys: Measuring Poverty in India


  • Alessandro Tarozzi

    (Princeton University)


We develop a procedure to estimate poverty counts in India from the 55th Round of the Na- tional Sample Survey (NSS), a large household survey run in 1999-2000. The evidence suggests that a change in the survey design caused the reports on household expenditure to change to an extent that it is impossible, without adjustments, to compare poverty estimates from this survey with those obtained from previous NSS Rounds. More generally, the paper addresses the problem of comparing the distribution of a variable across differently designed surveys, when the different design causes the respondents' reports about the variable to be incomparable across the surveys. The proposed procedure requires only the existence of a set of auxiliary variables whose reports are not affected by the different survey design, and whose relation with the main variable of interest is stable across the surveys. The estimator, instead, does not require specific functional form assumptions on the relation between the main variable of interest and the auxiliary variable. In the context of NSS data, we identify a set of variables whose reports are not systematically affected by the changes implemented in the survey design, and we provide evidence of the stability over time of the distribution of per capita total expenditure conditional on these variables. We describe an experiment to evaluate the performance of the estimator, showing that it provides satisfactory results, both in the estimation of poverty counts and in the estimation of the density of per capita expenditure. Finally, we use our estimator to calculate adjusted estimates for poverty in India using data from the 1999-2000 NSS Survey. The results show a sharp reduction in poverty in the nineties, even if in rural areas the reduction is not as large as that implied by the unadjusted figures.

Suggested Citation

  • Alessandro Tarozzi, 2002. "Estimating Comparable Poverty Counts from Incomparable Surveys: Measuring Poverty in India," Working Papers 186, Princeton University, Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs, Research Program in Development Studies..
  • Handle: RePEc:pri:rpdevs:tarozzi_estimating_comparable_poverty.pdf

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL:
    Download Restriction: no

    References listed on IDEAS

    1. repec:pri:rpdevs:deaton_tarozzi_prices_poverty is not listed on IDEAS
    2. DiNardo, John & Fortin, Nicole M & Lemieux, Thomas, 1996. "Labor Market Institutions and the Distribution of Wages, 1973-1992: A Semiparametric Approach," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 64(5), pages 1001-1044, September.
    3. Margaret Grosh & Paul Glewwe, 2000. "Designing Household Survey Questionnaires for Developing Countries : Lessons from 15 Years of the Living Standards Measurement Study, Volume 3," World Bank Publications - Books, The World Bank Group, number 15195, December.
    4. Gaurav Datt, 1999. "Has Poverty Declined since Economic Reforms? Statistical Data Analysis," Monash Economics Working Papers archive-31, Monash University, Department of Economics.
    5. Jean Olson Lanjouw & Peter Lanjouw, 2001. "How to Compare Apples And Oranges: Poverty Measurement Based on Different Definitions of Consumption," Review of Income and Wealth, International Association for Research in Income and Wealth, vol. 47(1), pages 25-42, March.
    6. repec:pri:rpdevs:deaton_tarozzi_prices_poverty.pdf is not listed on IDEAS
    7. Margaret Grosh & Paul Glewwe, 2000. "Designing Household Survey Questionnaires for Developing Countries : Lessons from 15 Years of the Living Standards Measurement Study, Volume 2," World Bank Publications - Books, The World Bank Group, number 15194, December.
    8. Stephen Howes & Jean Olson Lanjouw, 1998. "Does Sample Design Matter For Poverty Rate Comparisons?," Review of Income and Wealth, International Association for Research in Income and Wealth, vol. 44(1), pages 99-109, March.
    9. Gibson, John, 2001. "Measuring chronic poverty without a panel," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 65(2), pages 243-266, August.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)


    Citations are extracted by the CitEc Project, subscribe to its RSS feed for this item.

    Cited by:

    1. Ira N. Gang & Kunal Sen & Myeong-Su Yun, 2017. "Is Caste Destiny? Occupational Diversification among Dalits in Rural India," The European Journal of Development Research, Palgrave Macmillan;European Association of Development Research and Training Institutes (EADI), vol. 29(2), pages 476-492, April.
    2. Kijima, Yoko, 2006. "Caste and Tribe Inequality: Evidence from India, 1983-1999," Economic Development and Cultural Change, University of Chicago Press, vol. 54(2), pages 369-404, January.
    3. Nie, Peng & Rammohan, Anu & Gwozdz, Wencke & Sousa-Poza, Alfonso, 2016. "Developments in Undernutrition in Indian Children Under Five: A Decompositional Analysis," IZA Discussion Papers 9893, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
    4. World Bank, 2015. "Tanzania Poverty Assessment," World Bank Publications - Reports 21871, The World Bank Group.
    5. Nitin Kumar Bharti, 2018. "Wealth Inequality, Class and Caste in India, 1961-2012," World Inequality Lab Working Papers hal-02878149, HAL.
    6. Nitin Kumar Bharti, 2018. "Wealth Inequality, Class and Caste in India, 1961-2012," Working Papers hal-02878149, HAL.
    7. Brocker, Johannes, 2005. "Necessary and unnecessary parameter restrictions for CDES demand systems," Conference papers 331358, Purdue University, Center for Global Trade Analysis, Global Trade Analysis Project.

    Most related items

    These are the items that most often cite the same works as this one and are cited by the same works as this one.
    1. Barik, Debasis & Desai, Sonalde & Vanneman, Reeve, 2018. "Economic Status and Adult Mortality in India: Is the Relationship Sensitive to Choice of Indicators?," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 103(C), pages 176-187.
    2. Van Landeghem, Bert & Vandeplas, Anneleen, 2018. "The relationship between status and happiness: Evidence from the caste system in rural India," Journal of Behavioral and Experimental Economics (formerly The Journal of Socio-Economics), Elsevier, vol. 77(C), pages 62-71.
    3. Leandro De Magalhães & Dongya Koh & Raül Santaeulàlia-Llopis, 2016. "Consumption and Expenditure in Sub-Saharan Africa," Bristol Economics Discussion Papers 16/677, School of Economics, University of Bristol, UK, revised 07 Oct 2016.
    4. Reena Badiani, 2007. "Changes in Living Standards in Villages in India 1975-2004: Revisiting the ICRISAT Village Level Studies," Working Papers id:1172, eSocialSciences.
    5. Xiaowei Yang & Jianmin Gao & Zhongliang Zhou & Jue Yan & Sha Lai & Yongjian Xu & Gang Chen, 2016. "Assessing the Effects of the New Cooperative Medical Scheme on Alleviating the Health Payment-Induced Poverty in Shaanxi Province, China," PLOS ONE, Public Library of Science, vol. 11(7), pages 1-12, July.
    6. Leandro DE MAGALHÃES & Dongya KOH & Räul SANTAEULILA-LLOPIS, 2019. "The Cost of Consumption Smoothing: Less Schooling and less Nutrition," JODE - Journal of Demographic Economics, Cambridge University Press, vol. 85(3), pages 181-208, September.
    7. Wiseman, Virginia & Scott, Anthony & Conteh, Lesong & McElroy, Brendan & Stevens, Warren, 2008. "Determinants of provider choice for malaria treatment: Experiences from The Gambia," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 67(4), pages 487-496, August.
    8. Philippe De Vreyer & Sylvie Lambert, 2021. "Inequality, Poverty, and the Intra-Household Allocation of Consumption in Senegal," The World Bank Economic Review, World Bank, vol. 35(2), pages 414-435.
    9. Hai-Anh H. Dang & Peter F. Lanjouw, 2023. "Regression-based imputation for poverty measurement in data-scarce settings," Chapters, in: Jacques Silber (ed.), Research Handbook on Measuring Poverty and Deprivation, chapter 13, pages 141-150, Edward Elgar Publishing.
    10. Magnus Lindelow, 2008. "Health as a Family Matter: Do Intra-household Education Externalities Matter for Maternal and Child Health?," Journal of Development Studies, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 44(4), pages 562-585, April.
    11. Kojo Sarfo Gyamfi & Elena Gaura & James Brusey & Alessandro Bezerra Trindade & Nandor Verba, 2020. "Understanding Household Fuel Choice Behaviour in the Amazonas State, Brazil: Effects of Validation and Feature Selection," Energies, MDPI, vol. 13(15), pages 1-21, July.
    12. Richard Palmer-Jones, 2010. "Handbook on impact evaluation: quantitative methods and practices, by S.R. Khandker, G.B. Koolwal and H.A. Samad," Journal of Development Effectiveness, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 2(3), pages 387-390.
    13. Andrew Dabalen & Alvin Etang & Johannes Hoogeveen & Elvis Mushi & Youdi Schipper & Johannes von Engelhardt, 2016. "Mobile Phone Panel Surveys in Developing Countries," World Bank Publications - Books, The World Bank Group, number 24595, December.
    14. Samuel Mburu & Steffen Otterbach & Alfonso Sousa-Poza & Andrew Mude, 2017. "Income and Asset Poverty among Pastoralists in Northern Kenya," Journal of Development Studies, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 53(6), pages 971-986, June.
    15. Hassine, Nadia Belhaj, 2014. "Economic inequality in the Arab region," Policy Research Working Paper Series 6911, The World Bank.
    16. Sylvie Lambert & Philippe De Vreyer, 2017. "By ignoring intra-household inequality do we underestimate the extent of poverty?," Working Papers DT/2017/05, DIAL (Développement, Institutions et Mondialisation).
    17. D. Liliana González-Hernández & Raúl A. Aguirre-Gamboa & Erik W. Meijles, 2023. "The role of climate change perceptions and sociodemographics on reported mitigation efforts and performance among households in northeastern Mexico," Environment, Development and Sustainability: A Multidisciplinary Approach to the Theory and Practice of Sustainable Development, Springer, vol. 25(2), pages 1853-1875, February.
    18. Friedman,Jed & Beegle,Kathleen G. & De Weerdt,Joachim & Gibson,John, 2016. "Decomposing response errors in food consumption measurement : implications for survey design from a survey experiment in Tanzania," Policy Research Working Paper Series 7646, The World Bank.
    19. Aleksandra Jakubowski & Katherine Snyman & Dalsone Kwarisiima & Norton Sang & Rachel Burger & Laura Balzer & Tamara Clark & Gabriel Chamie & Starley Shade & Craig Cohen & Elizabeth Bukusi & Edwin Char, 2018. "High CD4 counts associated with better economic outcomes for HIV-positive adults and their HIV-negative household members in the SEARCH Trial," PLOS ONE, Public Library of Science, vol. 13(6), pages 1-18, June.
    20. Wendimu, Mengistu Assefa & Henningsen, Arne & Gibbon, Peter, 2016. "Sugarcane Outgrowers in Ethiopia: “Forced” to Remain Poor?," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 83(C), pages 84-97.

    More about this item



    JEL classification:

    • I32 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Welfare, Well-Being, and Poverty - - - Measurement and Analysis of Poverty


    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:pri:rpdevs:tarozzi_estimating_comparable_poverty.pdf. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    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 bibliographic 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.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: Bobray Bordelon (email available below). General contact details of provider: .

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

    IDEAS is a RePEc service. RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.