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Tasciotti, Luca and Wagner, Natascha (2017) 'How Much Should We Trust Micro-data? A Comparison of the Socio-demographic Profile of Malawian Households Using Census, LSMS and DHS data.' The European Journal of Development Research, 30. pp. 588-612.

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This paper assesses the empirical representativeness of micro-data by comparing the Malawi 2008 census to two representative household surveys – ‘the Living Standard Measurement Survey’ and the ‘Demographic and Health Survey’ – both implemented in Malawi in 2010. The comparison of descriptive statistics – demographics, asset ownership, and living conditions – shows considerable similarities despite statistically identifiable differences due to the large samples. Differences mainly occur when wording, scope, and pre-defined answer categories diverge across surveys. Multivariate analyses are considerably less representative due to loss of observations with composite indicators yielding higher comparability as individual ones. Household-level fixed-effect specifications produce more similar results, yet are not suited for policy conclusions. Comparability of micro-data should not be assumed but checked on a case-by-case basis. Still, micro-data constitute reliable grounds for factually informed conclusions if design and context are appropriately considered.

Item Type: Journal Article
SOAS Departments & Centres: Departments and Subunits > Department of Economics
Legacy Departments > Faculty of Law and Social Sciences > Department of Economics
ISSN: 09578811
DOI (Digital Object Identifier):
Date Deposited: 30 Sep 2017 16:28

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