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Household Surveys

Is bigger better? Agriculture edition

Markus Goldstein's picture
One of the more exciting sessions I went to at the recent Centre for the Study of African Economies Conference was on the relationship between agricultural plot size and productivity.  I walked out of the session not sure of the shape of the relationship, but I was sure of the fact that there is a lot of measurement error going on.   And this is measurement error that matters a lot.  
 

When bad people do good surveys

Markus Goldstein's picture
So there I was, a graduate student doing my PhD fieldwork.    In the rather hot office at the University of Ghana, I was going through questionnaire after questionnaire checking for consistency, missed questions and other dimensions of quality.   All of a sudden I saw a pattern:  in the time allocation questions, men in one village seemed to be doing the exact same things, for the same amount of time, on two very different days of the week.  
 

Getting to better data: Talking to strangers

Markus Goldstein's picture
About 15 years ago, when I was doing my dissertation research with a professor with experience in fieldwork, we did a 15 round survey with households in Ghana.   Given the frequency of the visits, we based the enumerators in the village.  But we were careful to hire enumerators from nearby big towns -- not the villages in which we were working.  This was partly for skills, but mostly to make sure that the enumerators wouldn't be asking sensitive questions of people they knew.