Sunday, February 14, 2010

Rich villagers also hide income

Social and Economic Networks in Rural Gambia

The methodology adopted for the present study differs from that of traditional household surveys in which a random sample of households is collected in each village. Our goal is to collect data for the full range of nodes participating in different networks within the village and the external links of these nodes. Given the costs associated with implementing LSMS-type surveys for all households in a village, we instead used structured group interviews geared to collect quantitative information. We therefore carried out village censuses through gatherings co-organized with the village chief (Alkalo) and district-level officers
. In such village meetings it is possible to obtain relatively coarse quantitative information -with a particular focus on socio-economic interactions- for almost all households in each village. This approach is common in ethnographic research and has been successfully used in the past for quantitative analysis.

In order to see the differences in the data we collected with standard surveys, in Figure 1 we compare the distribution of income in 15 villages where some months before our study a random sample of households were interviewed with the LSMS format for the baseline analysis of the CDDP evaluation, with very detailed questions about different sources of income for the month previous to the survey. Both distributions share the same support, but group data is more concentrated in the mean and has a notably high kurtosis. It is possible to see that in the left part, where poorer households are, the distributions are very similar, but richer respondents seems to provide downward biased information.

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