Faculty of Economics and Business Administration Publications Database

Multiple Visits and Data Quality in Household Surveys

Volume: 80
Number: 2
Pages: 380 - 405
Month: April
ISSN-Print: 1468-0084
Link External Source: Online Version
Year: 2018

In order to increase data quality some household surveys visit the respondent households several times to estimate one measure of consumption. For example, in Ghanaian Living Standards Measurement surveys, households are visited up to 10 times over a period of 1 month. I find strong evidence for conditioning effects as a result of this approach: In the Ghanaian data the estimated level of consumption is a function of the number of prior visits, with consumption being highest in the earlier survey visits. Telescoping (perceiving events as being more recent than they are) or seasonality (first-of-the-month effects) cannot explain the observed pattern. To study whether earlier or later survey visits are of higher quality, I employ a strategy based on Benford’s law. Results suggest that the consumption data from earlier survey visits are of higher quality than data from later visits. The findings have implications for the value of additional visits in household surveys, and also shed
light on possible measurement problems in high-frequency panels. They add to a recent literature on measurement errors in consumption surveys (Beegle et al., 2012, Gibson et al., 2015), and complement findings by Zwane et al. (2011) regarding the effect of surveys on subsequent behaviour.