Imagine that you receive a grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to give money transfers to families living in poverty. Yet, the selected country does not have formal income records. As a consequence, you decide to collect income information through a household survey. On your way to collect the information, you find an economist who points out two problems: (1) income can be measured with a lot of noise; and (2) individuals may have incentives to sub-report income to participate in the program.
Martin Ravallion has spent over 30 years working on poverty, with his career as the leading expert on the topic at the World Bank more recently augmented by his more recent position as a professor at Georgetown which has involved teaching an undergraduate class on the topic. From this depth of knowledge comes his new textbook The Economics of Poverty: History, Measurement, and Policy.
This is the seventh in our series of posts by students on the job market this year.
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.