From Guesstimates to GPStimates: Land Area Measurement and Implications for Agricultural Analysis

Journal of African Economies, 2015

Posted: 8 Jan 2019

See all articles by Paul Winters

Paul Winters

International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD)

Calogero Carletto

World Bank; World Bank - Development Research Group (DECRG)

Sydney Gourlay

World Bank - Development Data Group

Multiple version iconThere are 3 versions of this paper

Date Written: May 29, 2015

Abstract

Development goals and poverty-reduction policies are often focused on raising agricultural productivity and dependent on farm household level data. Historically, household surveys commonly employed self-reported land area measurements for cost-effectiveness and convenience. However, as we illustrate here, these self-reported estimates may measure land with systematic error resulting in sizable biases. This has led to the increased use of Global Positioning Systems (GPS) and other modern technologies to measure land size. In this article, we compare self-reported (SR) and GPS land measurement to assess the differences between the measures, to identify the sources of differences, and to determine the implications of the different measures on agricultural analysis. The results from the analysis of data from four African countries indicate that SR land areas systematically differ from GPS land measures and that this difference leads to biased estimates of the relationship between land and productivity and consistently low estimates of land inequality. Through the evidence and analysis presented here, we conclude that the more systematic use of GPS-measured land area will result in improved agricultural statistics and more accurate analysis of agricultural relationships, which will better inform future policy.

Suggested Citation

Winters, Paul and Carletto, Calogero and Gourlay, Sydney, From Guesstimates to GPStimates: Land Area Measurement and Implications for Agricultural Analysis (May 29, 2015). Journal of African Economies, 2015, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3306588

Paul Winters (Contact Author)

International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) ( email )

Via Paolo di Dono
Rome, 00142
Italy

Calogero Carletto

World Bank ( email )

1818 H Street, NW
Washington, DC 20433
United States

World Bank - Development Research Group (DECRG)

1818 H. Street, N.W.
MSN3-311
Washington, DC 20433
United States

Sydney Gourlay

World Bank - Development Data Group ( email )

1818 H Street, NW
Washington, DC 20433
United States

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