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Cheaper, faster, and more than good enough : is GPS the new gold standard in land area measurement ?


  • Carletto,Calogero
  • Gourlay,Sydney
  • Murray,Siobhan
  • Zezza,Alberto


In rural societies of low- and middle-income countries, land is a major measure of wealth, a critical input in agricultural production, and a key variable for assessing agricultural performance and productivity. In the absence of cadastral information to refer to, measures of land plots have historically been taken with one of two approaches: traversing (accurate, but cumbersome), and farmers'self-report (cheap, but marred by measurement error). Recently, the advent of cheap handheld GPS devices has held promise for balancing cost and precision. Guided by purposely collected primary data from Ethiopia, Nigeria, and Tanzania (Zanzibar), and with consideration for practical household survey implementation, the paper assesses the nature and magnitude of measurement error under different measurement methods and proposes a set of recommendations for plot area measurement. The results largely point to the support of GPS measurement, with simultaneous collection of farmer self-reported areas.

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  • Carletto,Calogero & Gourlay,Sydney & Murray,Siobhan & Zezza,Alberto, 2016. "Cheaper, faster, and more than good enough : is GPS the new gold standard in land area measurement ?," Policy Research Working Paper Series 7759, The World Bank.
  • Handle: RePEc:wbk:wbrwps:7759

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    Cited by:

    1. Abay, Kibrom A. & Abate, Gashaw & Barrett, Christopher B. & Bernard, Tanguy, 2018. "Correlated Non-Classical Measurement Errors, ‘Second Best’ Policy Inference and the Inverse Size-Productivity Relationship in Agriculture," 2018 Annual Meeting, August 5-7, Washington, D.C. 274248, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association.

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    Rural Communities; Community Based Rural Development; Rural Development Knowledge&Information Systems; Regional Rural Development; Rural Development Strategy&Policy;

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