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Same question but different answer : experimental evidence on questionnaire design's impact on poverty measured by proxies

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  • Kilic,Talip
  • Pave Sohnesen,Thomas
  • Kilic,Talip
  • Pave Sohnesen,Thomas

Abstract

Does the same question asked of the same population yield the same answer in face-to-face interviews when other parts of the questionnaire are altered? If not, what would be the implications for proxy-based poverty measurement? Relying on a randomized household survey experiment implemented in Malawi, this study finds that observationally equivalent as well as same households answer the same questions differently when interviewed with a short questionnaire versus the longer counterpart that, in a prior survey round, would have informed the prediction model for a proxy-based poverty measurement exercise. The analysis yields statistically significant differences in reporting between the short and long questionnaires across all topics and types of questions. The reporting differences result in significantly different predicted poverty rates and Gini coefficients. While the difference in predictions ranges from approximately 3 to 7 percentage points depending on the model specification, restricting the proxies to those collected prior the variation in questionnaire design, namely demographic variables from the household roster and location fixed effects, leads to same predictions in both samples. The findings emphasize the need for further methodological research, and suggest that short questionnaires designed for proxy-based poverty measurement should be piloted, prior to implementation, in parallel with the longer questionnaire from which they have evolved. The fact that at the median it took 25 minutes to complete the food and non-food consumption sections in the long questionnaire also implies that the implementation of these sections might not be as overly costly as usually assumed.

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  • Kilic,Talip & Pave Sohnesen,Thomas & Kilic,Talip & Pave Sohnesen,Thomas, 2015. "Same question but different answer : experimental evidence on questionnaire design's impact on poverty measured by proxies," Policy Research Working Paper Series 7182, The World Bank.
  • Handle: RePEc:wbk:wbrwps:7182
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    Cited by:

    1. Brown, Caitlin & Ravallion, Martin & van de Walle, Dominique, 2018. "A poor means test? Econometric targeting in Africa," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 134(C), pages 109-124.
    2. Joachim De Weerdt & John Gibson & Kathleen Beegle, 2019. "What can we learn from experimenting with survey methods?," Working Papers of LICOS - Centre for Institutions and Economic Performance 649089, KU Leuven, Faculty of Economics and Business (FEB), LICOS - Centre for Institutions and Economic Performance.
    3. Ligon, Ethan & Christiaensen, Luc & Sohnesen, Thomas P, 2020. "Should Consumption Sub-Aggregates be Used to Measure Poverty?," Department of Agricultural & Resource Economics, UC Berkeley, Working Paper Series qt9b9929jh, Department of Agricultural & Resource Economics, UC Berkeley.
    4. Pave Sohnesen,Thomas & Stender,Niels, 2016. "Is random forest a superior methodology for predicting poverty ? an empirical assessment," Policy Research Working Paper Series 7612, The World Bank.
    5. Astrid Mathiassen & Bjørn K. Wold, 2019. "Challenges in predicting poverty trends using survey to survey imputation. Experiences from Malawi," Discussion Papers 900, Statistics Norway, Research Department.

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