Experiments in Survey Methodology and Modules

Innovating and pushing the frontiers of research

Because of our experience in large-scale household surveys we are naturally interested in survey methodology.  We have conducted a number of research studies into survey modules and methodologies, for example, the impact of CAPI on data quality, interview time and costs, the use of mobile phone surveys for conducting high frequency interviews,  how time and distance is measured, how risk perception is measured, or how to design a shock module.

The following are some examples of the studies we have undertaken and links to analytical outcomes from our research on survey methodology:

Perception of Risk Modules

We tested modules that collect data on how people perceive risk (ex-ante) of different income generating activities. This culminated in a research project which looked at why one should, and how one can collect data on risk perception. Download Report (published in the World Bank’s Social Protection Discussion Paper Series)

Measuring Family Labour in Farming Inputs

Since early 2014, in conjunction with the World Bank and with further funding from DFID and IZA, we have been testing three alternative survey designs for collecting labour inputs in farming.  The focus of this project is the improvement in data collection of the quantity and demographics of family labour in farming in a low-income setting.  We are exploring these issues by designing and implementing a survey experiment to measure and compare the impact of different methods of collecting household agricultural labour information. The goals are twofold: to assess the accuracy of traditional recall surveys and to explore the option of mobile phone updates as an intermediate approach.   Data is currently being analysed and a methodological paper and research paper are currently being written.


Measurement of the quality of time and distance data

EDI conducted a project to assess the quality of data collected through household surveys as they relate to time and distance travelled. EDI organised over 500 trips in which respondents were asked to estimate time and distance to a destination (water source or school) and were subsequently requested to walk this same distance with a pedometer to measure the actual time and distance.

Consumption and Labour Modules

EDI implemented a survey of 4,500 households on behalf of the University of Dar es Salaam and the LSMS group at the World Bank that looks at the effect of different types of consumption and labour modules. The objective of this study was to understand the implications of alternative designs to measure household consumption, welfare and labour and to improve on current methods of collecting survey data. Go to Shwalita publications

CAPI Surveys

EDI randomly introduced electronic and paper consumption modules to 1,840 households living on the the island of Pemba in Zanzibar to assess the impact of CAPI on data quality, interview time and costs. The resulting paper “Improving Consumption Measurement and other Survey Data through CAPI: Evidence from a Randomized Experiment”. download pdf.

Mobile Phone Surveys

EDI hosted a Brian Dillon, a PhD candidate from Cornell University. Brian experimented with a novel survey technique, conducting high-frequency interviews with a panel of remote cotton farmers using mobile phones. He wrote up his experiences for the benefit of others pursuing similar endeavours.  You can download: “Using Mobile Phones to Conduct Research in Developing Countries”, or download the published version in the Journal of International Development.

Shock Modules

Understanding the typical life-altering instances that affect individuals, households and communities and the coping strategies they deploy to overcome them is vital for informing decision making of interventions. download notes on our experiences in administering shock modules (forthcoming in Journal of International Development)

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