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Can subjective questions on economic welfare be trusted ? evidence for three developing countries

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  • Ravallion, Martin
  • Himelein, Kristen
  • Beegle, Kathleen

Abstract

While self-assessments of welfare have become popular for measuring poverty and estimating welfare effects, the methods can be deceptive given systematic heterogeneity in respondents'scales. Little is known about this problem. This study uses specially-designed surveys in three countries, Tajikistan, Guatemala, and Tanzania, to study scale heterogeneity. Respondents were asked to score stylized vignettes, as well as their own household. Diverse scales are in evidence, casting considerable doubt on the meaning of widely-used summary measures such as subjective poverty rates. Nonetheless, under the identifying assumptions of the study, only small biases are induced in the coefficients on widely-used regressors for subjective poverty and welfare.

Suggested Citation

  • Ravallion, Martin & Himelein, Kristen & Beegle, Kathleen, 2013. "Can subjective questions on economic welfare be trusted ? evidence for three developing countries," Policy Research Working Paper Series 6726, The World Bank.
  • Handle: RePEc:wbk:wbrwps:6726
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Lars Osberg, 2015. "The Hunger of Old Women in Rural Tanzania: Can Subjective Data Improve Poverty Measurement?," Review of Income and Wealth, International Association for Research in Income and Wealth, vol. 61(4), pages 723-738, December.

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    Keywords

    Rural Poverty Reduction; Economic Theory&Research; Biodiversity; Poverty Lines; Regional Economic Development;

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