Measurement Error Mechanisms Matter: Agricultural Intensification with Farmer Misperceptions and Misreporting

43 Pages Posted: 23 Mar 2020

See all articles by Kibrom Abay

Kibrom Abay

International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI)-Cairo

Leah Bevis

Ohio State University (OSU) - Department of Agricultural, Environmental & Development Economics

Christopher B. Barrett

Cornell University - Charles H. Dyson School of Applied Economics & Management

Multiple version iconThere are 2 versions of this paper

Date Written: July 2019

Abstract

The mechanism(s) that generate measurement error matter to inference. Survey measurement error is typically thought to represent simple misreporting correctable through improved measurement. But errors might also or alternatively reflect respondent misperceptions that materially affect the respondent decisions under study. We show analytically that these alternate data generating processes imply different appropriate regression specifications and have distinct effects on the bias in parameter estimates. We introduce a simple empirical technique to generate unbiased estimates under more general conditions and to apportion measurement error between misreporting and misperceptions in measurement error when one has both self-reported and objectively-measured observations of the same explanatory variable. We then apply these techniques to the longstanding question of agricultural intensification: do farmers increase input application rates per unit area as the size of the plots they cultivate decreases? Using nationally representative data from four sub-Saharan African countries, we find strong evidence that measurement error in plot size reflects a mixture of farmer misreporting and misperceptions. The results matter to inference around the intensification hypothesis and call into question whether more objective, precise measures are always preferable when estimating behavioral parameters.

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Suggested Citation

Abay, Kibrom and Bevis, Leah and Barrett, Christopher B., Measurement Error Mechanisms Matter: Agricultural Intensification with Farmer Misperceptions and Misreporting (July 2019). NBER Working Paper No. w26066, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3558753

Kibrom Abay (Contact Author)

International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI)-Cairo ( email )

Cairo
Egypt

Leah Bevis

Ohio State University (OSU) - Department of Agricultural, Environmental & Development Economics ( email )

2120 Fyffe Rd
Columbus, OH 43210-1067
United States

Christopher B. Barrett

Cornell University - Charles H. Dyson School of Applied Economics & Management ( email )

315 Warren Hall
Ithaca, NY 14853-7801
United States
607-255-4489 (Phone)
607-255-9984 (Fax)

HOME PAGE: http://aem.cornell.edu/faculty_sites/cbb2/

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