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Measuring Subjective Expectations in Developing Countries: A Critical Review and New Evidence

Author

Listed:
  • Delavande, Adeline

    (RAND)

  • Gine, Xavier

    (The World Bank)

  • McKenzie, David

    (The World Bank)

Abstract

The majority of economic decisions taken by individuals are forward looking and thus involve their expectations of future outcomes. Understanding the expectations that individuals have is thus of crucial importance to designing and evaluating policies in health, education, finance, migration, social protection, and many other areas. However, the majority of developing country surveys are static in nature and do not contain information on the subjective expectations of individuals. Possible reasons given for not collecting this information include fears that poor, illiterate individuals do not understand probability concepts, that it takes far too much time to ask such questions, or that the answers add little value. This paper provides a critical review and new analysis of subjective expectations data from developing countries and refutes each of these concerns. The authors find that people in developing countries can generally understand and answer probabilistic questions, such questions are not prohibitive in time to ask, and the expectations are useful predictors of future behavior and economic decisions. The paper discusses the different methods being tried for eliciting such information, the key methodological issues involved, and the open research questions. The available evidence suggests that collecting expectations data is both feasible and valuable, suggesting that it should be incorporated into more developing country surveys.

Suggested Citation

  • Delavande, Adeline & Gine, Xavier & McKenzie, David, 2009. "Measuring Subjective Expectations in Developing Countries: A Critical Review and New Evidence," Policy Research Working Paper Series 4824, The World Bank.
  • Handle: RePEc:wbk:wbrwps:4824
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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Subjective Expectations; Survey Methodology; Development.;
    All these keywords.

    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
    • D84 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Expectations; Speculations
    • O12 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Microeconomic Analyses of Economic Development

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