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When the remedy is worse than the disease: Adjusting survey income data for price differentials, with special reference to Mozambique


  • Carlos Maia

    () (Department of Economics, University of Stellenbosch)

  • Servaas van der Berg

    () (Department of Economics, University of Stellenbosch)


In using survey data for money metric analysis of poverty and well-being, it is customary to adjust either the data or the poverty line for spatial prices differentials where data exist to make such adjustment. In developing countries where recorded price differentials between regions or provinces are large, using the remedy of adjusting for price differentials may sometimes lead to very wrong conclusions about the spatial distribution of poverty. This may have severe consequences for policy and may be detrimental to the poor. The paper deals with a specific situation, that of Mozambique, where large price differentials are said to exist between the capital (Maputo City) on the one hand, and the rest of the country. Official data that adjust for this may heavily over-estimate poverty in Maputo City, with consequences for the targeting of poverty. We use an asset index based on Multiple Correspondence Analysis (MCA) to show that the spatial poverty profile derived from the price-adjusted income data exaggerates poverty in Maputo City, and undertake further empirical analysis to show that not adjusting for the estimated spatial price differentials may have given more reliable estimates of well-being, judging by asset holdings.

Suggested Citation

  • Carlos Maia & Servaas van der Berg, 2010. "When the remedy is worse than the disease: Adjusting survey income data for price differentials, with special reference to Mozambique," Working Papers 24/2010, Stellenbosch University, Department of Economics.
  • Handle: RePEc:sza:wpaper:wpapers123

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Booysen, Frikkie & van der Berg, Servaas & Burger, Ronelle & Maltitz, Michael von & Rand, Gideon du, 2008. "Using an Asset Index to Assess Trends in Poverty in Seven Sub-Saharan African Countries," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 36(6), pages 1113-1130, June.
    2. Christophe Muller, 2008. "The Measurement Of Poverty With Geographical And Intertemporal Price Dispersion: Evidence From Rwanda," Review of Income and Wealth, International Association for Research in Income and Wealth, vol. 54(1), pages 27-49, March.
    3. Ravallion, Martin & Bidani, Benu, 1994. "How Robust Is a Poverty Profile?," World Bank Economic Review, World Bank Group, vol. 8(1), pages 75-102, January.
    4. John Gibson & Scott Rozelle, 2005. "Prices and Unit Values in Poverty Measurement and Tax Reform Analysis," World Bank Economic Review, World Bank Group, vol. 19(1), pages 69-97.
    5. Ravallion, M., 1992. "Poverty Comparisons - A Guide to Concepts and Methods," Papers 88, World Bank - Living Standards Measurement.
    6. repec:dau:papers:123456789/4381 is not listed on IDEAS
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    Cited by:

    1. Alfani, Federica & Azzarri, Carlo & d'Errico, Marco & Molini, Vasco, 2012. "Poverty in Mozambique : new evidence from recent household surveys," Policy Research Working Paper Series 6217, The World Bank.

    More about this item


    Mozambique; poverty; prices differentials; multiple correspondence analysis;

    JEL classification:

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

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