I was in a meeting the other week where we were wrestling with the issue of how to capture better labor supply in agricultural surveys. This is tough – the farms are often far from the house, tasks are often dispersed across time, with some of them being a small amount of hours – either in total or on a given day. Families can have more than one farm, weakening what household members know about how the others spend their time. One of the interesting papers that came up was a study by Elena Bardasi, Kathleen Beegle, Andrew Dllon and Pieter Serneels. Before turning to their results its worth spending a bit more time discussing what could be going on.
Two things would seem to matter (among others). First, who you ask could shape the information you get. We’ve had multiple posts in the past about imperfections in within household information. These posts have talked about income and consumption and while labor would arguably be easier to observe, it may suffer from the same strategic motives for concealment and thus be underreported when the enumerator asks someone other than the actual worker to respond on this.