Same Question But Different Answer: Experimental Evidence on Questionnaire Design's Impact on Poverty Measured by Proxies

22 Pages Posted: 12 Feb 2019

See all articles by Talip Kilic

Talip Kilic

World Bank - Development Data Group (DECDG)

Thomas Pave Sohnesen

World Bank

Multiple version iconThere are 2 versions of this paper

Date Written: March 2019

Abstract

Based on a randomized survey experiment that was implemented in Malawi, the study finds that observationally‐equivalent, as well as same, households answer the same questions differently depending on whether they are interviewed with a short questionnaire or its longer counterpart. Statistically significant differences in reporting emerge across all topics and question types. In proxy‐based poverty measurement, these reporting differences lead to significantly different predicted poverty rates and Gini coefficients. The difference in poverty predictions ranges from 3 to 7 percentage points, depending on the model specification. A prediction model based only on the proxies that are elicited prior to the variation in questionnaire design yields identical poverty predictions irrespective of the short‐versus‐long questionnaire treatment. The results are relevant for estimating trends with questionnaires exhibiting inter‐temporal variation in design, impact evaluations administering questionnaires of different length and complexity to treatment and control samples, and development programs utilizing proxy‐means tests for targeting.

Keywords: household survey experiment, poverty, proxy‐based poverty measurement, questionnaire design, survey‐to‐survey imputation

Suggested Citation

Kilic, Talip and Sohnesen, Thomas Pave, Same Question But Different Answer: Experimental Evidence on Questionnaire Design's Impact on Poverty Measured by Proxies (March 2019). Review of Income and Wealth, Vol. 65, Issue 1, pp. 144-165, 2019. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3332594 or http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/roiw.12343

Talip Kilic (Contact Author)

World Bank - Development Data Group (DECDG) ( email )

Via Labicana 110
Rome, Lazio 00184
Italy

Thomas Pave Sohnesen

World Bank ( email )

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

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