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How accurate are recall data ? evidence from coastal India

  • de Nicola, Francesca
  • Gine, Xavier

This paper investigates the accuracy of recall data by comparing administrative records with retrospective, self-reported survey responses to income and asset questions for a sample of self-employed households from coastal India. It finds that the magnitude of the recall error increases over time, in part because respondents rely less on memory and instead infer earnings based on past earnings. Individuals tend to recall monthly earnings more accurately when they are higher than the median. These results imply that the variance estimated from the self-reported earnings distribution will be lower than the real one. The paper also finds that data reported by income earners are more accurate than those by their wives. In addition, the use of time cues can worsen accuracy if they are not relevant to the respondent. Where the recall questions are placed in the two-hour long survey, however, does not affect accuracy.

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Paper provided by The World Bank in its series Policy Research Working Paper Series with number 6009.

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Date of creation: 01 Mar 2012
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Handle: RePEc:wbk:wbrwps:6009
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  1. Pischke, J.S., 1994. "Measurement Error and Earnings Dynamics: Some Estimates from the PSID Validation Study," Working papers 94-01, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Department of Economics.
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  9. Bound, John, et al, 1994. "Evidence on the Validity of Cross-Sectional and Longitudinal Labor Market Data," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 12(3), pages 345-68, July.
  10. Beegle, Kathleen & Carletto, Calogero & Himelein, Kristen, 2012. "Reliability of recall in agricultural data," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 98(1), pages 34-41.
  11. Costas Meghir & Luigi Pistaferri, 2004. "Income Variance Dynamics and Heterogeneity," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 72(1), pages 1-32, 01.
  12. Nava Ashraf, 2009. "Spousal Control and Intra-household Decision Making: An Experimental Study in the Philippines," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 99(4), pages 1245-77, September.
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  14. Jishnu Das & Jeffrey Hammer & Carolina S�nchez-Paramo, 2011. "The Impact of Recall Periods on Reported Morbidity and Health Seeking Behavior," Working Papers 1320, Princeton University, Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs, Research Program in Development Studies..
  15. Udry, Christopher, 1996. "Gender, Agricultural Production, and the Theory of the Household," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 104(5), pages 1010-46, October.
  16. Amos Tversky & Daniel Kahneman, 1991. "Loss Aversion in Riskless Choice: A Reference-Dependent Model," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 106(4), pages 1039-1061.
  17. Akee, Randall, 2011. "Errors in self-reported earnings: The role of previous earnings volatility and individual characteristics," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 96(2), pages 409-421, November.
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  20. Beegle, Kathleen & De Weerdt, Joachim & Friedman, Jed & Gibson, John, 2012. "Methods of household consumption measurement through surveys: Experimental results from Tanzania," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 98(1), pages 3-18.
  21. Delavande, Adeline & Giné, Xavier & McKenzie, David, 2011. "Measuring subjective expectations in developing countries: A critical review and new evidence," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 94(2), pages 151-163, March.
  22. Megan Beckett & Julie Da Vanzo & Narayan Sastry & Constantijn Panis & Christine Peterson, 2001. "The Quality of Retrospective Data: An Examination of Long-Term Recall in a Developing Country," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 36(3), pages 593-625.
  23. John Bound & Charles Brown & Greg J. Duncan & Willard L Rodgers, 1989. "Measurement Error In Cross-Sectional and Longitudinal Labor Market Surveys: Results From Two Validation Studies," NBER Working Papers 2884, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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  25. Poterba, James M & Summers, Lawrence H, 1986. "Reporting Errors and Labor Market Dynamics," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 54(6), pages 1319-38, November.
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