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LSMS: Publications

Research Papers & Technical Guidebooks

The LSMS team regularly produces research papers and technical guidebooks that provide guidance to statistical agencies, researchers, and practitioners on key topics in survey design and implementation. Scroll down for a list of selected papers and publications that rely on LSMS data, written by the LSMS team as well as other authors and researchers. Articles are presented in reverse chronological order. Articles next to the Africa leaf map logo were created under the Agriculture in Africa: Telling Facts from Myths initiative.

Papers

LSMS-ISA: Publication

Agriculture in Africa: Telling Myths from Facts

by Luc Christiaensen and Lionel Demery
October 2017

Stylized facts set agendas and shape debates. In rapidly changing and data scarce environments, they also risk being ill-informed, outdated and misleading. So, following higher food prices since the 2008 world food crisis, robust economic growth and rapid urbanization, and climatic change, is conventional wisdom about African agriculture and rural livelihoods still accurate? Or is it more akin to myth than fact? The essays in “Agriculture in Africa – Telling Myths from Facts” aim to set the record straight. They exploit newly gathered, nationally representative, geo-referenced information at the household and plot level, from six African countries. In these new Living Standard Measurement Study-Integrated Surveys on Agriculture, every aspect of farming and non-farming life is queried—from the plots farmers cultivate, the crops they grow, the harvest that is achieved, and the inputs they use, to all the other sources of income they rely on and the risks they face. Together the surveys cover more than 40 percent of the Sub-Saharan African population. In all, sixteen conventional wisdoms are examined, relating to four themes: the extent of farmer’s engagement in input, factor and product markets; the role of off-farm activities; the technology and farming systems used; and the risk environment farmers face. Some striking surprises, in true myth-busting fashion, emerge. And a number of new issues are also thrown up. The studies bring a more refined, empirically grounded understanding of the complex reality of African agriculture. They also confirm that investing in regular, nationally representative data collection yields high social returns.


LSMS-ISA: Publication

Could the Debate Be Over? Errors in Farmer-Reported Production and their Implications for the Inverse Scale-Productivity Relationship in Uganda

by Sydney Gourlay, Talip Kilic and David Lobell
September 2017

Based on a two-round household panel survey conducted in Eastern Uganda, this study shows that the analysis of the inverse scale-productivity relationship is highly sensitive to how plot-level maize production, hence yield (production divided by GPS-based plot area), is measured. Although farmer-reported production-based plot-level maize yield regressions consistently lend support to the inverse scale-productivity relationship, the comparable regressions estimated with maize yields based on sub-plot crop cutting, full-plot crop cutting, and remote sensing point toward constant returns to scale, at the mean as well as throughout the distributions of objective measures of maize yield. In deriving the much-debated coefficient for GPS-based plot area, the maize yield regressions control for objective measures of soil fertility, maize genetic heterogeneity, and edge effects at the plot level; a rich set of plot, household, and plot manager attributes; as well as time-invariant household- and parcel-level unobserved heterogeneity in select specifications that exploit the panel nature of the data. The core finding is driven by persistent overestimation of farmer-reported maize production and yield vis-à-vis their crop cutting–based counterparts, particularly in the lower half of the plot area distribution. Although the results contribute to a larger, and renewed, body of literature questioning the inverse scale-productivity relationship based on omitted explanatory variables or alternative formulations of the agricultural productivity measure, the paper is among the first documenting how the inverse relationship could be a statistical artifact, driven by errors in farmer-reported survey data on crop production.


LSMS-ISA: Publication

Shelter from the Storm? Household-level Impacts of, and Responses to, the 2015 Floods in Malawi

by Nancy McCarthy, Talip Kilic, Alejandro De La Fuente and Josh Brubaker
September 2017

As extreme weather events intensify due to climate change, it becomes ever more critical to understand how vulnerable households are to these events and the mechanisms households can rely on to minimize losses effectively. This paper analyzes the impacts of the floods that occurred during the 2014/15 growing season in Malawi, using a two-period panel data set. The results show that while yields were dramatically lower for households severely affected by the floods, drops in food consumption expenditures and calories per capita were less dramatic. However, dietary quality, as captured by the food consumption score, was significantly lower for flood-affected households. Although access to social safety nets increased food consumption outcomes, particularly for those in moderately-affected areas, the proportion of households with access to certain safety net programs was lower in 2015 compared with 2013. The latter finding suggests that linking these programs more closely to disaster relief efforts could substantially improve welfare outcomes during and after a natural disaster. Finally, risk-coping strategies, including financial account ownership, access to off-farm income sources, and adult children living away from home, were generally ineffective in mitigating the negative impacts of the floods.


LSMS-ISA: Publication

Measuring Ownership, Control and Use of Assets

by Cheryl Doss, Caitlin Kieran and Talip Kilic
July 2017

Assets generate and help diversify income, provide collateral to access credit, alleviate liquidity constraints in the face of shocks, and are key inputs into empowerment. Despite the importance of individual-level data on asset ownership and control, and that most assets are owned by individuals, solely or jointly, it is typical for the micro data on asset ownership to be collected at the household level, often from only one respondent per household. Even when the data are collected at the individual level, with identification of reported or documented owners of a given asset within the household, the information is still often solicited from a single respondent. Further, the identification of owners is seldom paired with the identification of individuals who hold various rights to assets, limiting understanding of the interrelationships among ownership and rights, and whether these relationships vary across individuals. Through a review of the existing approaches to data collection and the relevant literature on survey methodology, this paper presents an overview of the current best practices for collecting individual-level data on the ownership and control of assets in household and farm surveys. The paper provides recommendations in three areas: (1) respondent selection; (2) definition and measurement of assess to and ownership and control of assets; and (3) measurement of the quantity, value, and quality of assets. Open methodological questions that can be answered through analysis of existing data or the collection and analysis of new data are identified for future research.


LSMS-ISA: Publication

Mission Impossible? Exploring the Promise of Multiple Imputation for Predicting Missing GPS-Based Land Area Measures in Household Surveys

by Talip Kilic, Ismael Yacoubou Djima and Calogero Carletto
July 2017

Research has provided robust evidence for the use of GPS technology to be the scalable gold standard in land area measurement in household surveys. Nonetheless, facing budget constraints, survey agencies often seek to measure with GPS only plots within a given radius of dwelling locations. Subsequently, it is common for significant shares of plots not to be measured, and research has highlighted the selection biases resulting from using incomplete data. This study relies on nationally-representative, multi-topic household survey data from Malawi and Ethiopia that exhibit near-negligible missingness in GPS-based plot areas, and validates the accuracy of a multiple imputation model for predicting missing GPS-based plot areas in household surveys. The analysis (i) randomly creates missingness among plots beyond two operationally relevant distance measures from the dwelling locations; (ii) conducts multiple imputation under each distance scenario for each artificially created data set; and (iii) compares the distributions of the imputed plot-level outcomes, namely, area and agricultural productivity, with the known distributions. In Malawi, multiple imputation can produce imputed yields that are statistically undistinguishable from the true distributions with up to 82 percent missingness in plot areas that are further than 1 kilometer from the dwelling location. The comparable figure in Ethiopia is 56 percent. These rates correspond to overall rates of missingness of 23 percent in Malawi and 13 percent in Ethiopia. The study highlights the promise of multiple imputation for reliably predicting missing GPS-based plot areas, and provides recommendations for optimizing fieldwork activities to capture the minimum required data.


LSMS-ISA: Publication

Soft Skills for Hard Constraints: Evidence from High-Achieving Female Farmers

by Joao Montalvao, Michael Frese, Markus Goldstein and Talip Kilic
June 2017

This paper documents the positive link between the noncognitive skills of women farmers and the adoption of a cash crop. The context is Malawi, one of the poorest countries in the world, where the majority of rural households practice subsistence farming. The analysis finds that a one standard deviation increase in noncognitive ability related to perseverance is associated with a five percentage point (or 33 percent) increase in the probability of adoption of the main cash crop. This link is not explained by differences across women in education and cognitive skills. It is also not explained by the fact that women with higher noncognitive ability tend to be married to husbands of higher noncognitive ability and education. The effect of female noncognitive skills on adoption is concentrated in patrilocal communities, where women face greater adversity and thus where it would be expected that the returns to such skills would be highest. One main channel through which noncognitive skills seem to work is through the use of productive inputs, including higher levels of labor, fertilizer, and agricultural advice services.


LSMS-ISA: Publication

Collecting the Dirt on Soils: Advancements in Plot-Level Soil Testing and Implications for Agricultural Statistics

by Sydney Gourlay, Ermias Aynekulu, Keith Shepherd, Calogero Carletto
May 2017

Much of the current analysis on agricultural productivity is hampered by the lack of consistent, high quality data on soil health and how it is changing under past and current management. Historically, plot-level statistics derived from household surveys have relied on subjective farmer assessments of soil quality or, more recently, publicly available geospatial data. The Living Standards Measurement Study of the World Bank implemented a methodological study in Ethiopia, which resulted in an unprecedented data set encompassing a series of subjective indicators of soil quality as well as spectral soil analysis results on plot-specific soil samples for 1,677 households. The goals of the study, which was completed in partnership with the World Agroforestry Centre and the Central Statistical Agency of Ethiopia, were twofold: (1) evaluate the feasibility of integrating a soil survey into household socioeconomic data collection operations, and (2) evaluate local knowledge of farmers in assessing their soil quality. Although a costlier method than subjective assessment, the integration of spectral soil analysis in household surveys has potential for scale-up. In this study, the first large scale study of its kind, enumerators spent approximately 40 minutes per plot collecting soil samples, not a particularly prohibitive figure given the proper timeline and budget. The correlation between subjective indicators of soil quality and key soil properties, such as organic carbon, is weak at best. Evidence suggests that farmers are better able to distinguish between soil qualities in areas with greater variation in soil properties. Descriptive analysis shows that geospatial data, while positively correlated with laboratory results and offering significant improvements over subject assessment, fail to capture the level of variation observed on the ground. The results of this study give promise that soil spectroscopy could be introduced into household panel surveys in smallholder agricultural contexts, such as Ethiopia, as a rapid and cost-effective soil analysis technique with valuable outcomes. Reductions in uncertainties in assessing soil quality and, hence, improvements in smallholder agricultural statistics, enable better decision-making.


LSMS-ISA: Publication

Stronger Together: Intra-household Cooperation and Household Welfare in Malawi

by Nancy McCarthy and Talip Kilic
April 2017

It has long been recognized that household decision-making may not result in outcomes consistent with the unitary household model. Within the collective bargaining framework, consumption decisions would be driven by the spouse with greater bargaining power, while the outcomes would still be Pareto efficient. Within the non-cooperative framework, households would not achieve Pareto efficient outcomes, and under the simplest representation, bargaining power would not affect consumption decisions. This paper develops a model that allows consumption patterns and labor supply to be affected by both bargaining power and non-cooperation. The model highlights the potential gains from improving bargaining power versus increasing cooperation between spouses, and presents conditions under which relatively large gains would be expected from moving to more equitable bargaining power versus achieving intra-household cooperation. The model's predictions are in turn tested using a unique panel data set on married couples in rural Malawi. The analysis shows that, relative to increasing wives' bargaining power, improving cooperation between spouses would exert larger and statistically significant positive impacts on total household income and consumption expenditures per capita, as well as the share of household consumption devoted to public goods. Supported also by cross-country qualitative research, the results suggest that household public goods are relatively important to both women and men in rural Malawi, husbands' capacity to control wives' incomes is relatively limited, and development programs that promote intra-household cooperation could lead to greater gains in income and household public goods provision compared with interventions focusing exclusively on women's empowerment.


LSMS-ISA: Publication

Composition of Household Income and Child Nutrition Outcomes: Evidence from Uganda

by Angeli Kirk, Talip Kilic, and Calogero Carletto
April 2017

This study targets the empirical space between cross-country analyses exploring links between income and nutrition without insights on micro-level determinants, and relevant microeconomic studies hindered by small sample size and/or incomplete data. We use the rural samples of the three waves of the Uganda National Panel Survey, and estimate panel regressions of child height-for-age z-scores (HAZ) controlling for time-invariant child-level heterogeneity. On the whole, we find no impact of short-term changes in total gross income on HAZ but document small positive correlations for younger children. Sector-differentiated analyses indicate that compared to wage earnings, only share of income from non-farm self-employment correlates positively with HAZ. Within agriculture, shares of income from consumption of own crop production and from low-protein crop production underlie the negative effect of share of income from crop production. While we cannot claim causal relationships, our findings suggest the possibility of “stickiness” of crop production to own consumption.


LSMS-ISA: Publication

Agriculture in Africa - Telling Myths from Facts: A Synthesis

by Luc Christiaensen
February 2017

Stylized facts drive research agendas and policy debates. Yet robust stylized facts are hard to come by, and when available, often outdated. In a special issue of Food Policy, 12 papers revisit conventional wisdom on African agriculture and its farmers' livelihoods using nationally representative surveys from the Living Standards Measurement Study-Integrated Surveys on Agriculture Initiative in six African countries. At times, the findings simply confirm the common understanding of the topic. But the studies also throw up several surprises, redirecting some policy debates while fine-tuning others. Overall, the project calls for more attention to checking and updating the common wisdom. This requires nationally representative data, and sufficient incentives among researchers and policy makers alike. Without well-grounded stylized facts, they can easily be profoundly misguided.


LSMS-ISA: Publication

Costing Household Surveys for Monitoring Progress toward Ending Extreme Poverty and Boosting Shared Prosperity

by Talip Kilic, Umar Serajuddin, Hiroki Uematsu and Nobuo Yoshida
January 2017

On October 15, 2015, World Bank Group President Jim Yong Kim announced the World Bank Group’s commitment to support the 78 poorest countries to implement a multi-topic household survey every three years between 2016 and 2030, for monitoring progress toward ending extreme poverty and boosting shared prosperity. This paper estimates the resource requirements to achieve the objectives of implementing 390 surveys across 78 International Development Association countries from 2016 to 2030, and providing direct technical assistance to the national statistical offices on all facets of survey design, implementation, and dissemination toward timely production of quality household survey data. The approach to the costing exercise is unique, as it makes use of detailed data on actual survey implementation and technical assistance costs from a group of countries, unlike previous attempts at costing household survey data gaps. The required total budget, in accordance with the survey design features recommended by the World Bank Household Survey Strategy, is estimated at US$945 million for the period of 2016-2030. Of this, US$692 million is projected to cover the survey implementation costs across 78 countries, and US$253 million is projected to cover the costs of direct technical assistance to be provided to the national statistical offices.


LSMS-ISA: Publication

Food Price Changes and Household Welfare: What Do We Learn from Two Different Approaches?

by Luca Tiberti and Marco Tiberti
December 2016

The use of a marginal approach can significantly distort the predicted effects of large price variations on monetary welfare over the medium- to longer-term. This paper aims at shedding some light on the differences between a marginal approach and a non-separable agricultural household model with behavioural responses. When behavioural adjustments are allowed, households can adapt their consumption and production patterns by resulting in lower deteriorations in household welfare. The second-order effects introduced in the approach with responses reduce the negative effects due to the first-order consumption effects, with significant differences across quintiles. On average, the second-order effects represent up to roughly 40 per cent of total first-order effects. The main contribution of this article is to discuss the welfare and poverty effects due to food price rises as estimated under a marginal and a response approach, and to disentangle the total effect into first- and second-order consumption and production effects.


LSMS-ISA: Publication

Heterogeneous Returns to Income Diversification: Evidence from Nigeria

by Eleonora Bertoni, Paul Andres Corral Rodas, Vasco Molini, and Gbemisola Oseni
November 2016

This paper investigates the impact of income diversification on farming households' welfare in Nigeria on two rounds of the Nigeria General Household Survey-Panel, namely the 2010/2011 and 2012/2013. The study finds that income diversification is the norm in Nigeria, with about 60 percent of farmers diversifying away from subsistence farming into non-farm activities and cash crops. In addition, using the panel of farmers interviewed before and after a severe drought that hit Northern Nigeria in particular in 2011, the study finds that diversification increased throughout Nigeria from 60 to 64 percent and in the North from 58 to 63 percent. The study postulates the existence of heterogeneous returns on diversification as a consequence of the drought, and estimates the returns through a non-parametric selection model using a local instrumental variable. The choice of this model is dictated by the necessity to account for both heterogeneous effects of diversification and selection bias related to households' decision to diversify. Overall, it is found that diversification positively affects consumption in Nigeria. However, who benefits the most is crucially determined by the initial conditions under which diversification is undertaken and the specific agro-climatic context in which households operate.


LSMS-ISA: Publication

Varietal Identification in Household Surveys: Results from an Experiment Using DNA Fingerprinting of Sweet Potato Leaves in Southern Ethiopia

by Frederic Kosmowski, Abiyot Aragaw, Andrzej Kilian, Alemayehu Ambel, John Ilukor, Biratu Yigezu and James Stevenson
September 2016

Sweet potato (Ipomoea batatas) varieties have important nutritional differences and there is strong interest to identify nutritionally superior varieties for dissemination. In agricultural household surveys, this information is often collected based on the farmer's self-report. However, recent evidence has demonstrated the inherent difficulties in correctly identifying varieties from self-report information. This study examines the accuracy of self-report information on varietal identification from a data capture experiment on sweet potato varieties in southern Ethiopia. Three household-based methods of identifying varietal adoption are tested against the benchmark of DNA fingerprinting: (A) elicitation from farmers with basic questions for the most widely planted variety; (B) farmer elicitation on five sweet potato phenotypic attributes by showing a visual-aid protocol; and (C) enumerator recording observations on five sweet potato phenotypic attributes using a visual-aid protocol and visiting the field. The reference being the DNA fingerprinting, about 30 percent of improved varieties were identified as local or non-improved, and 20 percent of farmers identified a variety as local when it was in fact improved. The variety names given by farmers delivered inconsistent and fuzzy varietal identities. The visual-aid protocols employed in methods B and C were better than method A, but still way below the adoption estimates given by the DNA fingerprinting method. The findings suggest that estimating the adoption of improved varieties with methods based on farmer self-reports is questionable, and point toward a wider use of DNA fingerprinting, likely to become the gold standard for crop varietal identification.


LSMS-ISA: Publication

On the Ground or in the Air?: A Methodological Experiment on Crop Residue Cover Measurement in Ethiopia

by Frederic Kosmowski, James Stevenson, Jeff Campbell, Aleymayehu Ambel and Asmelash Tsegay
September 2016

Maintaining permanent coverage of the soil using crop residues is an important and commonly recommended practice in conservation agriculture. Measuring this practice is an essential step in improving knowledge about the adoption and impact of conservation agriculture. Different data collection methods can be implemented to capture the field level crop residue coverage for a given plot, each with its own implications for the survey budget, implementation speed, and respondent and interviewer burden. This study tests six alternative methods of crop residue coverage measurement among the same sample of rural households in Ethiopia. The relative accuracy of these methods is compared against a benchmark, the line-transect method. The alternative methods compared against the benchmark include: (i) interviewee (respondent) estimation; (ii) enumerator estimation visiting the field; (iii) interviewee with visual-aid without visiting the field; (iv) enumerator with visual-aid visiting the field; (v) field picture collected with a drone and analyzed with image-processing methods; and (vi) satellite picture of the field analyzed with remote sensing methods. Results of the methodological experiment show that survey-based methods tend to underestimate field residue cover. When quantitative data on cover are needed, the best estimates are provided by visual-aid protocols. For categorical analysis (such as greater than 30 percent cover or not), visual-aid protocols and remote sensing methods perform equally well. Among survey-based methods, the strongest correlates of measurement errors are total farm size, field size, distance, and slope. The results deliver a ranking of measurement options that can inform survey practitioners and researchers.


LSMS-ISA: Publication

Prevalence, Economic Contribution, and Determinants of Trees on Farms across Sub-Saharan Africa

by Daniel Charles Miller, Juan Carlos Munoz Mora, and Luc Christiaensen
August 2016

Trees on farms are often overlooked in agricultural and natural resource research and policy in Sub-Saharan Africa. This paper addresses this gap using data from the Living Standards Measurement Study – Integrated Surveys on Agriculture in five countries: Ethiopia, Malawi, Nigeria, Tanzania, and Uganda. Trees on farms are widespread. On average, one third of rural smallholders grow trees. They account for an average of 17 percent of total annual gross income for tree-growing households and 6 percent for all rural households. Gender, land and labor endowments, and especially forest proximity and national context are key determinants of on-farm tree adoption and management. These new, national-scale insights on the prevalence, economic contribution and determinants of trees on farms in Africa lay the basis for exploring the interaction of agriculture, on-farm tree cultivation, and forestry. This will improve our understanding of rural livelihood dynamics.


LSMS Publication

Not Your Average Job: Measuring Farm Labor in Tanzania

by Vellore Shroff Arthi, Kathleen Beegle, Joachim De Weerdt, Amparo Palacios-Lopez
July 2016

A good understanding of the constraints on agricultural growth in Africa relies on the accurate measurement of smallholder labor. Yet, serious weaknesses in these statistics persist. The extent of bias in smallholder labor data is examined by conducting a randomized survey experiment among farming households in rural Tanzania. Agricultural labor estimates obtained through weekly surveys are compared with the results of reporting in a single end-of-season recall survey. The findings show strong evidence of recall bias: people in traditional recall-style modules report working up to four times as many hours per person-plot relative to those reporting labor on a weekly basis. If hours are aggregated to the household level, however, this discrepancy disappears, a factor driven by the underreporting by recall households of people and plots active in agricultural work. The evidence suggests that these competing forms of recall bias are driven not only by failures in memory, but also by the mental burdens of reporting on highly variable agricultural work patterns to provide a typical estimate. All things equal, studies suffering from this bias would understate agricultural labor productivity.


LSMS Publication

Cheaper, Faster, and More than Good Enough

by Calogero Carletto, Sydney Gourlay, Siobhan Murray and Alberto Zezza
July 2016

In rural societies of low- and middle-income countries, land is a major measure of wealth, a critical input in agricultural production, and a key variable for assessing agricultural performance and productivity. In the absence of cadastral information to refer to, measures of land plots have historically been taken with one of two approaches: traversing (accurate, but cumbersome), and farmers' self-report (cheap, but marred by measurement error). Recently, the advent of cheap handheld GPS devices has held promise for balancing cost and precision. Guided by purposely collected primary data from Ethiopia, Nigeria, and Tanzania (Zanzibar), and with consideration for practical household survey implementation, the paper assesses the nature and magnitude of measurement error under different measurement methods and proposes a set of recommendations for plot area measurement. The results largely point to the support of GPS measurement, with simultaneous collection of farmer self-reported areas.


LSMS Publication

Estimating International Poverty Lines from Comparable National Thresholds

by Dean Jolliffe and Espen Beer Prydz
March 2016

World Bank's international poverty line of $1.90/day, at 2011 purchasing power parity, is based on a collection of national poverty lines, which were originally used to set the international poverty line of $1.25/day at 2005 purchasing power parity. This paper proposes an approach for estimating a more recent, complete, and comparable collection of national poverty thresholds from reported national poverty rates. The paper presents a set of international poverty lines based on this new database of national poverty lines. In contrast to the lines used to estimate the $1.90 international poverty line, this approach produces national poverty lines that are (1) consistent with national poverty rates, (2) expressed in common units, and (3) provide greater support to the estimated international poverty line. These national poverty lines are used to estimate an extreme international poverty line, and three higher lines that are more relevant for higher-income countries. A key finding provides evidence of the robustness and relevance of the $1.90 international poverty line as a measure of extreme poverty for low-income countries.


LSMS-ISA: Publication

Land Measurement Bias and Its Empirical Implications: Evidence from a Validation Exercise

by Andrew Dillon, Sydney Gourlay, Kevin McGee and Gbemisola Oseni
March 2016

This paper investigates how land size measurements vary across three common land measurement methods (farmer estimated, Global Positioning System (GPS), and compass and rope), and the effect of land size measurement error on the inverse farm size relationship and input demand functions. The analysis utilizes plot-level data from the second wave of the Nigeria General Household Survey Panel, as well as a supplementary land validation survey covering a subsample of General Household Survey Panel plots. Using this data, both GPS and self-reported farmer estimates can be compared with the gold standard compass and rope measurements on the same plots. The findings indicate that GPS measurements are more reliable than farmer estimates, where self-reported measurement bias leads to over-reporting land sizes of small plots and under-reporting of large plots. The error observed across land measurement methods is nonlinear and results in biased estimates of the inverse land size relationship. Input demand functions that rely on self-reported land measures significantly underestimate the effect of land on input utilization, including fertilizer and household labor.


LSMS-ISA: Publication

Price Seasonality in Africa: Measurement and Extent

by Christopher L. Gilbert, Luc Christiaensen, Jonathan Kaminski
January 2016

Everyone knows about seasonality. But what exactly do we know? This study systematically measures seasonal price gaps at 193 markets for 13 food commodities in seven African countries. It shows that the commonly used dummy variable or moving average deviation methods to estimate the seasonal gap can yield substantial upward bias. This can be partially circumvented using trigonometric and sawtooth models, which are more parsimonious. Among staple crops, seasonality is highest for maize (33 percent on average) and lowest for rice (16½ percent). This is two and a half to three times larger than in the international reference markets. Seasonality varies substantially across market places but maize is the only crop in which there are important systematic country effects. Malawi, where maize is the main staple, emerges as exhibiting the most acute seasonal differences. Reaching the Sustainable Development Goal of Zero Hunger requires renewed policy attention to seasonality in food prices and consumption.


LSMS-ISA: Publication

Seasonality in Local Food Markets and Consumption: Evidence from Tanzania

by Jonathan Kaminski, Luc Christiaensen and Christopher L. Gilbert
December 2015

This paper revisits the extent of seasonality in African livelihoods. It uses 19 years of monthly food prices from 20 markets and three years of nationally representative household panel surveys from Tanzania. Trigonometric specifications are introduced to measure the seasonal gap. When samples are short and seasonality is poorly defined, they produce less upward bias than the common dummy variable approach. On average, the seasonal gap for maize prices is estimated to be 27 percent; it is 15 percent for rice. In both cases it is 2.5 to 3 times higher than in the international reference market. Food price seasonality is not a major contributor to food price volatility, but it does translate into seasonal variation in caloric intake of about 10 percent among poor urban households and rural net food sellers. Rural net food buying households appear able to smooth their consumption. The disappearance of seasonality from Africa’s development debate seems premature.


LSMS-ISA: Publication

Estimating Poverty with Panel Data, Comparably: An Example from Jordan

by Dean Jolliffe and Umar Serajuddin
July 2015

Poverty estimates based on enumeration from a single point in time form the cornerstone for much of the literature on poverty. Households are typically interviewed once about their consumption or income, and their wellbeing is assessed from their responses. Global estimates of poverty that aggregate poverty counts from all countries implicitly assume that the counts are comparable. This paper illustrates that this assumption of comparability is potentially invalid when households are interviewed multiple times with repeat visits throughout the year. The paper provides an example from Jordan, where the internationally comparable approach of handling the data from repeat visits yields a poverty rate that is 26 percent greater than the rate that is currently reported as the official estimate. The paper also explores alternative definitions of poverty, informed in part by the psychological and biophysical literature on the long-run effects of short-term exposure to poverty or generally adverse environments. This alternative concept of poverty suggests that the prevalence of those who have been affected by poverty in Jordan during 2010 is more than twice as large as the official 2010 estimate of poverty.


LSMS-ISA: Publication

Market Imperfections Exacerbate the Gender Gap: The Case of Malawi

by Amparo Palacios-Lopez and Ramon Lopez
June 2015

This paper hypothesizes that labor and credit market imperfections—by discouraging off-farm income-generating activities and restricting access to inputs, respectively—affect female farm productivity more deeply than male productivity. The paper develops a theoretical model that decomposes the contribution of various market imperfections to the gender productivity gap. The paper shows empirically that agricultural labor productivity is on average 44 percent lower on plots managed by female heads of household than on those managed by male heads. Thirty-four percent of this gap is explained by differences in labor market access and 29 percent by differences in credit access.


LSMS-ISA: Publication

How Much of the Labor in African Agriculture is Provided By Women?

by Amparo Palacios-Lopez, Luc Christiaensen, and Talip Kilic
June 2015

The contribution of women to labor in African agriculture is regularly quoted in the range of 60 to 80 percent. Using individual-disaggregated, plot-level labor input data from nationally representative household surveys across six Sub-Saharan African countries, this study estimates the average female labor share in crop production at 40 percent. It is slightly above 50 percent in Malawi, Tanzania, and Uganda, and substantially lower in Nigeria (37 percent), Ethiopia (29 percent), and Niger (24 percent). There are no systematic differences across crops and activities, but female labor shares tend to be higher in households where women own a larger share of the land and when they are more educated. Controlling for the gender and knowledge profile of the respondents does not meaningfully change the predicted female labor shares. The findings question prevailing assertions regarding substantial gains in aggregate crop output as a result of increasing female agricultural productivity.


LSMS-ISA: Publication

Smallholders’ Land Ownership and Access in Sub-Saharan Africa: A New Landscape?

by Klaus Deininger, Fang Xia, and Sara Savastano
June 2015

While scholars agree on the importance of land rental markets for structural transformation in rural areas, evidence on the extent and nature of their operation, including potential obstacles to their improved functioning, remains limited. This study uses household-level data from six countries to start filling this gap and derive substantive as well as methodological lessons. The paper finds that rental markets transfer land to land-poor, labor-rich, and more productive producers throughout. But vast cross-country variation in transfers and the fact that female managers could possibly improve their income by leasing out land point towards barriers to participation that policy might address. Methodological and substantive conclusions are derived.


LSMS-ISA: Publication

Crop Choice and Infrastructure Accessibility in Tanzania: Subsistence Crops or Export Crops?

by Atsushi Iimi, Richard Martin Humphreys, and Sevara Melibaeva
June 2015

Africa has great potential for agriculture. Although international commodity prices have been buoyant, Africa’s supply response seems to be weak. A variety of constraints may exist. Using the case of Tanzania, the paper examines the impact of market connectivity, domestic and international, on farmers’ crop choices. It is shown that the international market connectivity, measured by transport costs to the maritime port, is important for farmers to choose export crops, such as cotton and tobacco. Internal connectivity to the domestic market is also found to be important for growing food crops, such as maize and rice. Among other inputs, access to irrigation and improved seed availability are also important factors in the crop choices of farmers. The size of land area is one constraint to promote the crop shift. The paper also reports the finding that farmers are not using market prices effectively in their choice of crop, even after the endogeneity of local prices is taken into account.


LSMS-ISA: Publication

Transport Infrastructure and Welfare: An Application to Nigeria

by Rubaba Ali, Alvaro Federico Barra, Claudia N. Berg, Richard Damania, John D. Nash and Jason Daniel Russ
May 2015

Transport infrastructure is deemed to be central to development and consumes a large fraction of the development assistance envelope. Yet there is debate about the economic impact of road projects. This paper proposes an approach to assess the differential development impacts of alternative road construction and prioritize various proposals, using Nigeria as a case study. Recognizing that there is no perfect measure of economic well-being, a variety of outcome metrics are used, including crop revenue, livestock revenue, non-agricultural income, the probability of being multi-dimensionally poor, and local gross domestic product for Nigeria. Although the measure of transport is the most accurate possible, it is still endogenous because of the nonrandom placement of road infrastructure. This endogeneity is addressed using a seemingly novel instrumental variable termed the natural path: the time it would take to walk along the most logical route connecting two points without taking into account other, bias-causing economic benefits. Further, the analysis considers the potential endogeneity from nonrandom placement of households and markets through carefully chosen control variables. It finds that reducing transportation costs in Nigeria will increase crop revenue, non-agricultural income, the wealth index, and local gross domestic product. Livestock sales increase as well, although this finding is less robust. The probability of being multi-dimensionally poor will decrease. The results also cast light on income diversification and structural changes that may arise. These findings are robust to relaxing the exclusion restriction. The paper also demonstrates how to prioritize alternative road programs by comparing the expected development impacts of alternative New Partnership for Africa's Development projects.


LSMS-ISA: Publication

Gender and Agriculture in Sub-Saharan Africa: Introduction to the Special Issue

by Talip Kilic, Paul Winters and Calogero Carletto
May 2015

This special issue contributes to the literature on gender differences in sub-Saharan African agriculture primarily by using new and innovative micro-data. The first six articles have a strong focus on understanding the extent and drivers of gender differences in land productivity and use data from nationally representative household surveys that are implemented under the Living Standards Measurement Study-Integrated Surveys on Agriculture (LSMS-ISA) initiative. The LSMS-ISA data are multi-topic, with geo-referenced household and plot locations, and information on production and identity of managers and owners at the plot level. The last two articles in the volume rely on in-depth quantitative and qualitative case study data, which, in combination with the nationally representative data, allow for greater insights into the extent and correlates of gender differences in sub-Saharan African agriculture. While there does seem to be persistent evidence of gender gaps, the studies find the sources of these gaps to vary within and across countries. This makes designing policies to address gender gaps more challenging, yet of crucial importance. What is clear is that the failure to directly and explicitly address the underlying causes of the disparities is likely to end up exacerbating the observed gender gaps.


LSMS-ISA: Publication

Gender and Agricultural Productivity: Implications of the Farm Input Subsidy Program in Malawi

by Wendy Karamba and Paul Winters
May 2015

Alleviating gender differences in agricultural productivity is vital for poverty reduction. While numerous studies suggest that gender differences in agricultural productivity are a result of female farmers having limited access to resources, few studies investigate the role of agricultural interventions in alleviating the constraints to input use and subsequently the gender gap in productivity. This study investigates whether there are gendered gains in agricultural productivity from participating in an input subsidy program and if these gains help reduce the gender gap. Using nationally representative data that is disaggregated at the plot level, this study analyzes the large-scale voucher-based Farm Input Subsidy Program in Malawi. Focusing on the total value of output per hectare, relationships are identified using weighted estimators, where the weights are constructed from propensity scores, and spatial fixed effects, to address the unobservable factors that may confound the relationship between program participation and productivity. The findings suggest that participation in the program improves agricultural productivity for both male and female farmers but it does not provide disproportionate help to female famers to overcome gender disparities in agricultural productivity. This suggests that female farmers face additional constraints to productivity apart from nonlabor input use.


LSMS-ISA: Publication

Investigating the Gender Gap in Agricultural Productivity: Evidence from Uganda

by Daniel Ali, Frederick Bowen, Klaus Deininger, and Marguerite Duponchel
May 2015

Women comprise 50 percent of the agricultural labor force in Sub-Saharan Africa, but manage plots that are reportedly on average 20 to 30 percent less productive. As a source of income inequality and aggregate productivity loss, the country-specific magnitude and drivers of this gender gap are of great interest. Using national data from the Uganda National Panel Survey for 2009/10 and 2010/11, the gap before controlling for endowments was estimated to be 17.5 percent. Panel data methods were combined with an Oaxaca decomposition to investigate the gender differences in resource endowment and return to endowment driving this gap. Although men have greater access to inputs, input use is so low and inverse returns to plot size so strong in Uganda that smaller female-managed plots have a net endowment advantage of 12 percent, revealing a larger unexplained gap of 29.5 percent. Two-fifths of this unexplained gap is attributed to differential returns to the child dependency ratio and one-fifth to differential returns to transport access, implying that greater child care responsibilities and difficulty accessing input and output markets from areas without transport are the largest drivers of the gap. Smaller and less robust drivers include differential uptake of cash crops, and differential uptake and return to improved seeds and pesticides.


LSMS-ISA: Publication

Capturing Food Away from Home in Welfare Measures

by Gabriela Farfan, Maria Genoni, and Renos Vakis
May 2015

Consumption of food away from home is rapidly growing across the developing world. Surprisingly, the majority of household surveys around the world haven not kept up with its pace and still collect limited information on it. The implications for poverty and inequality measurement are far from clear, and the direction of the impact cannot be established a priori, since consumption of food away from home affects both food consumption and the poverty line. This paper exploits rich data on food away from home collected as part of the National Household Survey in Peru, shedding light to the extent to which welfare measures differ depending on whether they properly account for food away from home. Peru is a relevant context, with the average Peruvian household spending 28 percent of their food budget on food away from home by 2010. The analysis indicates that failure to account for the consumption of food away from home has important implications for poverty and inequality measures as well as the understanding of who the poor are. First, accounting for food away from home results in extreme poverty rates that are 18 percent higher and moderate poverty rates that are 16 percent lower. These results are also consistent, in fact more pronounced, with poverty gap and severity measures. Second, consumption inequality measured by the Gini coefficient decreases by 1.3 points when food away from home is included, a significant reduction. Finally, inclusion of food away from home results in a reclassification of households from poor to non-poor status and vice versa: 20 percent of the poor are different when the analysis includes consumption of food away from home. This effect is large enough that a standard poverty profile analysis results in significant differences between the poverty classification based on whether food away from home is included or not. The differences cover many dimensions, including demographics, education, and labor market characteristics. Taken together, the results indicate that a serious rethinking of how to deal with the consumption of food away from home in measuring well-being is urgently needed to properly estimate and understand poverty around the world.


LSMS-ISA: Publication

Are Women Less Productive Farmers? How Markets and Risk Affect Fertilizer Use, Productivity, and Measured Gender Effects in Uganda

by Don Larson, Sara Savastano, Siobhan Murray, and Amparo Palacios-Lopez
April 2015

African governments and international development groups see boosting productivity on smallholder farms as key to reducing rural poverty and safeguarding the food security of farming and non-farming households. Prompting smallholder farmers to use more fertilizer has been a key tactic. Closing the productivity gap between male and female farmers has been another avenue toward achieving the same goal. The results in this paper suggest the two are related. Fertilizer use and maize yields among smallholder farmers in Uganda are increased by improved access to markets and extension services, and reduced by ex ante risk-mitigating production decisions. Standard ordinary least squares regression results indicate that gender matters as well; however, the measured productivity gap between male and female farmers disappears when gender is included in a list of determinants meant to capture the indirect effects of market and extension access.


LSMS-ISA: Publication

Labor Productivity and Employment Gaps in Sub-Saharan Africa

by Ellen McCullough
April 2015

Drawing on a new set of nationally representative, internationally comparable household surveys, this paper provides an overview of key features of structural transformation—labor allocation and labor productivity—in four African economies. New, micro-based measures of sector labor allocation and cross-sector productivity differentials describe the incentives households face when allocating their labor. These measures are similar to national accounts-based measures that are typically used to characterize structural changes in African economies. However, because agricultural workers supply far fewer hours of labor per year than do workers in other sectors, productivity gaps disappear almost entirely when expressed on a per-hour basis. What look like large productivity gaps in national accounts data could really be employment gaps, calling into question the prospective gains that laborers can achieve through structural transformation. These employment gaps, along with the strong linkages observed between rural non-farm activities and primary agricultural production, highlight agriculture's continued relevance to structural change in Sub-Saharan Africa.


LSMS-ISA: Publication

Rural Policies, Price Change and Poverty in Tanzania: An Agricultural Household Model-Based Assessment

by Luca Tiberti and Marco Tiberti
March 2015

Exogenous shocks to farmers' consumption, production and labour market decisions are rarely considered accurately. For farm households, under labour market imperfections, such decisions are often interlinked. This calls for non-separable agricultural household models. According to this framework, second-order (or behavioural) effects include a direct (i.e., supply or demand reactions due to an exogenous shock) and an indirect (i.e., supply or demand adjustments to the endogenous variations in the shadow wage generated by the exogenous shock) component. Under large price changes or following structural interventions, such as those concerning land redistribution or mechanisation practices, neglecting such second-order effects on consumption and production can bias the final impact on household welfare. The main objective of this study is thus to develop a robust and comprehensive tool to evaluate the effect on household welfare of different agricultural policies in Tanzania and food price changes. A two-stage estimation strategy is adopted: the shadow price of labour is first estimated and then used to estimate production and demand systems as well as labour market functions. These models are subsequently used to simulate the effect on household welfare of a hypothetical 40% increase in the price of cereals and other crops and a hypothetical 10% increase in the hectares of arable land and in the use of ox-ploughs. The results are finally compared with the case in which a separable model is adopted.


LSMS-ISA: Publication

Maize Price Volatility: Does Market Remoteness Matter?

by Ndiaye Moctar, Maitre d’Hôtel Elodie, and Le Cotty Tristan
February 2015

This paper addresses the role of market remoteness in explaining maize price volatility in Burkina Faso. A model of price formation is introduced to demonstrate formally that transport costs between urban and rural markets exacerbate maize price volatility. Empirical support is provided to the proposition by exploring an unusually rich data set of monthly maize price series across 28 markets over 2004-13. The methodology relies on an autoregressive conditional heteroskedasticity model to investigate the statistical effect of road quality and distance from urban consumption centers on maize price volatility. The analysis finds that maize price volatility is greatest in remote markets. The results also show that maize-surplus markets and markets bordering Côte d'Ivoire, Ghana and Togo have experienced more volatile prices than maize-deficit and non-bordering markets. The findings suggest that enhancing road infrastructure would strengthen the links between rural markets and major consumption centers, thereby also stabilizing maize prices.


LSMS-ISA: Publication

Gender Differentials and Agricultural Productivity in Niger

by Prospere Backiny-Yetna and Kevin McGee
February 2015

Most of the poor in Sub-Saharan Africa live in rural areas where agriculture is the main income source. This agriculture is characterized by low performance and its productivity growth has been identified as a key driver of poverty reduction. In Niger, as in many other African countries, productivity is even lower among female peasants. To build policy interventions to improve agricultural productivity among women, it is important to measure the potential gap between men and women and understand the determinants that explain the gap. This paper uses the Oaxaca-Blinder decomposition methodology at the aggregate and detailed levels to identify the factors that explain the productivity gap. The analysis finds that in Niger on average plots managed by women produce 19 percent less per hectare than plots managed by men. It also finds that the gender gap tends to be widest among Niger's most productive farmers. The primary factors that contribute to the gender productivity gap in Niger are: (i) farm labor, with women facing significant challenges in accessing, using, and supervising male farm labor; (ii) the quantity and quality of fertilizer use, with men using more inorganic fertilizer per hectare than women; and (iii) land ownership and characteristics, with men owning more land and enjoying higher returns to ownership than women.


LSMS-ISA: Publication

Is Increasing Inorganic Fertilizer Use in Sub-Saharan Africa a Profitable Proposition? Evidence from Nigeria

by Lenis Saweda Liverpool-Tasie, Bolarin Omonona, Awa Sanou, and Wale Ogunleye
February 2015

Inorganic fertilizer use across Sub-Saharan Africa is generally considered to be low. Yet, this belief is predicated on the assumption that it is profitable to use rates higher than currently observed. However, there is little rigorous empirical evidence to support this notion. Using a nationally representative panel data set, and with due recognition of the role of risk and uncertainty, this paper empirically estimates the profitability of fertilizer use for maize production in Nigeria. The analysis finds that inorganic fertilizer use in Nigeria is not as low as conventional wisdom suggests. Low marginal physical product and high transportation costs significantly reduce the profitability of fertilizer use. The paper finds evidence that strategies to reduce transportation costs are likely to have a much larger effect on the profitability of fertilizer use than fertilizer subsidies. Apart from reduced transportation costs, other constraints such as timely access to the product; availability of complementary inputs such as improved seeds, irrigation, and credit; as well as good management practices are also necessary for sustained agricultural productivity improvements.


LSMS-ISA: Publication

Same Question but Different Answer: Experimental Evidence on Questionnaire Design’s Impact on Poverty Measured by Proxies

by Talip Kilic and Thomas Sohnesen
January 2015

Does the same question asked of the same population yield the same answer in face-to-face interviews when other parts of the questionnaire are altered? If not, what would be the implications for proxy-based poverty measurement? Relying on a randomized household survey experiment implemented in Malawi, this study finds that observationally equivalent as well as same households answer the same questions differently when interviewed with a short questionnaire versus the longer counterpart that, in a prior survey round, would have informed the prediction model for a proxy-based poverty measurement exercise. The analysis yields statistically significant differences in reporting between the short and long questionnaires across all topics and types of questions. The reporting differences result in significantly different predicted poverty rates and Gini coefficients. While the difference in predictions ranges from approximately 3 to 7 percentage points depending on the model specification, restricting the proxies to those collected prior the variation in questionnaire design, namely demographic variables from the household roster and location fixed effects, leads to same predictions in both samples. The findings emphasize the need for further methodological research, and suggest that short questionnaires designed for proxy-based poverty measurement should be piloted, prior to implementation, in parallel with the longer questionnaire from which they have evolved. The fact that at the median it took 25 minutes to complete the food and non-food consumption sections in the long questionnaire also implies that the implementation of these sections might not be as overly costly as usually assumed.


LSMS-ISA: Publication

From Tragedy to Renaissance: Improving Agricultural Data for Better Policies

by Gero Carletto, Dean Jolliffe, and Raka Banerjee
January 2015

Agricultural development is an essential engine of growth and poverty reduction, yet agricultural data suffer from poor quality and narrow sectoral focus. There are several reasons for this: (i) difficult-to-measure smallholder agriculture is prevalent in poor countries, (ii) agricultural data are collected with little coordination across ministries of agriculture and national statistics offices, and (iii) poor analysis undermines the demand for high-quality data. This paper argues that initiatives like the Global Strategy to Improve Agricultural and Rural Statistics bode well for the future. Moving from Devarajan's statistical "tragedy" to Kiregyera's statistical "renaissance" will take a continued long-term effort by individual countries and development partners.


LSMS-ISA: Publication

Does Livestock Ownership Affect Animal Source Foods Consumption and Child Nutritional Status? Evidence from Rural Uganda

by Carlo Azzarri, Elizabeth Cross, Beliyou Haile, and Alberto Zezza
November 2014

In many developing countries, consumption of animal source foods among the poor is still at a level where increasing its share in total caloric intake may have many positive nutritional benefits. This paper explores whether ownership of various livestock species increases consumption of animal source foods and helps improve child nutritional status. The paper finds some evidence that food consumption patterns and nutritional outcomes may be affected by livestock ownership in rural Uganda. The results are suggestive that promoting (small) livestock ownership has the potential to affect human nutrition in rural Uganda, but further research is needed to estimate more precisely the direction and size of these effects.


LSMS-ISA: Publication

Milking the Data: Measuring Income from Milk Production in Extensive Livestock Systems: Experimental Evidence from Niger

by Alberto Zezza, Giovanni Federighi, Kalilou Adamou, and Pierre Hiernaux
November 2014

Milk is an important source of cash and nutrients for many households in developing countries. Yet, the understanding of the role of dairy production in livelihoods and nutritional outcomes is hindered by the lack of decent quality household survey data. Data on milk off-take for human consumption are difficult to collect in household surveys for several reasons that make accurate recall challenging for the respondent (continuous production and seasonality, among others). As a result, the quantification and valuation of milk off-take is particularly difficult in household surveys, introducing possibly severe biases in the computation of full household incomes and farm sales, as well as in the estimation of the contribution of livestock (specifically dairy) production in agricultural value added and the livelihoods of rural households. This paper presents results from a validation exercise implemented in Niger, where alternative survey instruments based on recall methods were administered to randomly selected households and compared with a 12-month system of physical monitoring and recording of milk production. The results of the exercise show that reasonably accurate estimates via recall methods are possible and provide a clear ranking of questionnaire design options that can inform future survey operations.


Agriculture in Africa: Telling Facts from Myths

Income Diversification Patterns in Rural Sub-Saharan Africa: Reassessing the Evidence

by Benjamin Davis, Stefania Di Giuseppe, and Alberto Zezza
November 2014

Is Africa's rural economy transforming as its economies grow? This paper uses comparable income aggregates from 41 national household surveys from 22 countries to explore the extent of income diversification among rural households in Sub-Saharan Africa, and to look at how income diversification in Sub-Saharan Africa compares with other regions, taking into account differences in levels of development. The paper also seeks to understand how geography drives income diversification, focusing on the role of agricultural potential and distance to urban areas. The countries in the African sample have higher shares of on-farm income (63 versus 33 percent) and lower shares on nonagricultural wage income (8 and 21 percent) compared with countries of other regions. Specialization in on-farm activities continues to be the norm in rural Africa (52 percent of households, 21 percent in other regions). In terms of welfare, specialization in nonagricultural income-generating activities stochastically dominates farm-based strategies in all of the countries in our African sample. Crop income is still important for welfare, however, and even at higher levels of household income, crop activities continue to play an important complementary role. Regardless of distance and integration in the urban context, when agro-climatic conditions are favorable, farming remains the occupation of choice for most households in the African countries for which the study has geographically explicit information. When urban integration is low and agricultural conditions more difficult, the picture is mixed, with households more likely to engage more fully in nonfarm activities in Niger and Malawi, but less likely to do so in Uganda and Tanzania.

  • Watch the video accompanying this paper here.

LSMS-ISA: Publication

Can Agricultural Households Farm Their Way out of Poverty?

by Gbemisola Oseni, Kevin McGee, and Andrew Dabalen
November 2014

This paper examines the determinants of agricultural productivity and its link to poverty using nationally representative data from the Nigeria General Household Survey Panel, 2010/11. The findings indicate an elasticity of poverty reduction with respect to agricultural productivity of between 0.25 to 0.3 percent, implying that a 10 percent increase in agricultural productivity will decrease the likelihood of being poor by between 2.5 and 3 percent. To increase agricultural productivity, land, labor, fertilizer, agricultural advice, and diversification within agriculture are the most important factors. As commonly found in the literature, the results indicate the inverse-land size productivity relationship. More specifically, a 10 percent increase in harvested land size will decrease productivity by 6.6 percent, all else being equal. In a simulation exercise where land quality is assumed to be constant across small and large holdings, the results show that if farms in the top land quintile had half the median yield per hectare of farms in the lowest quintile, production of the top quintile would be 10 times higher. The higher overall values of harvests from larger land sizes are more likely because of cultivation of larger expanses of land, rather than from efficient production. It should be noted that having larger land sizes in itself is not positively correlated with a lower likelihood of being poor. This is not to say that having larger land sizes is not important for farming, but rather it indicates that increasing efficiency is the more important need that could lead to poverty reduction for agricultural households.


LSMS-ISA: Publication

The Impact of Household Food Consumption Data Collection Methods on Poverty and Inequality Measures in Niger

by Prospere Backiny-Yetna, Diane Steele, and Ismael Yacoubou Djima
November 2014

This paper assesses the impact of three methodologies of food data collection on the welfare distribution, and poverty and inequality measures in Niger. The first methodology is a 7-day recall period, the second one is a usual month, and the third one is a 7-day diary. The paper finds that there is a difference in the distribution of welfare between, on the one hand, the two first methodologies (7-day recall and a usual month, which give results close to each other) and, on the other hand, the 7-day diary method. When considering annual per capita consumption, the 7-day diary lags the 7-day recall by 28 percent. This gap is not only at the mean of the distribution, it has been found at any level. These differences lead to differences in poverty and inequality measures even when alternate poverty lines are used. This study underscores the problem that many developing countries face when it comes to monitoring poverty indicators over time where different methodologies have been used over the years.


Agriculture in Africa: Telling Facts from Myths

Agricultural Intensification: The Status in Six African Countries

by Hans Binswanger-Mkhize and Sara Savastano
November 2014

The Boserup-Ruthenberg framework has long been used to explain and understand the determinants of agricultural growth, the nature of the intensification of farming systems, investment, and technology adoption. The literature has produced an extensive body of evidence that summarizes or tests the hypothesis in Africa and often found it confirmed. However, in the past two decades, rapid population growth has put African farming systems under stress. At the same time, there has been a sharp increase in urbanization and economic growth that is providing new market opportunities for farmers. It is therefore necessary to investigate whether this has resulted in rapid intensification of farming systems, permitting rapid agricultural growth and maintenance or increase in the incomes of the farming population. This paper describes the status of intensification in six African countries using the first round of data from the Living Standards Measurement Study-Integrated Surveys on Agriculture. In addition, the paper (i) develops internationally comparable measures of overall agro-ecological crop potential and urban gravity in the farmers' location and (ii) estimates the causal impact of agro-ecological potential and urban gravity on population density, infrastructure, and market access and on a range of agricultural intensification variables. The paper shows that the new measures have relevant explanatory power. The descriptive analysis shows that the patterns of intensification observed across countries suggest several inconsistencies with Boserup-Ruthenberg. The paper also finds that urban gravity, except for its impact on crop intensities, has little impact on other intensification indicators.


Agriculture in Africa: Telling Facts from Myths

Agricultural Factor Markets in Sub-Saharan Africa: An Updated View with Formal Tests for Market Failure

by Brian Dillon and Christopher Barrett
November 2014

This paper uses the recently collected Living Standard Measurement Study-Integrated Surveys on Agriculture Initiative data sets from five countries in Sub-Saharan Africa to provide a comprehensive overview of land and labor market participation by agrarian households and to formally test for failures in factor markets. Under complete and competitive markets, households can solve their consumption and production problems separately, so that household factor endowments do not predict input demand. This paper implements a simple, theoretically grounded test of this separation hypothesis, which can be interpreted as a reduced form test of factor market failure. In all five study countries, the analysis finds strong evidence of factor market failure. Moreover, those failures appear general and structural, not specific to subpopulations defined by gender or geography.

  • Watch the video accompanying this paper here.

Agriculture in Africa: Telling Facts from Myths

Non-Farm Enterprises in Rural Africa: New Empirical Evidence

by Paula Nagler and Wim Naude
October 2014

Although non-farm enterprises are ubiquitous in rural Sub-Saharan Africa, little is yet known about them. The motivation for households to operate enterprises, how productive they are, and why they exit the market are neglected questions. Drawing on the Living Standards Measurement Study -- Integrated Surveys on Agriculture and using discrete choice, selection model and panel data estimators, this paper provide answers using data from Ethiopia, Niger, Nigeria, Malawi, Tanzania, and Uganda. The necessity to cope following shocks, seasonality in agriculture, and household size can push rural households into operating a non-farm enterprise. Households are also pulled into entrepreneurship to exploit opportunities. Access to credit and markets, household wealth, and the education and age of the household head are positively associated with the likelihood of operating an enterprise. The characteristics are also associated with the type of business activity a household operates. Rural and female-headed enterprises and enterprises with young enterprise owners are less productive than urban and male-owned enterprises and enterprises with older owners. Shocks have a negative association with enterprise operation and productivity and a large share of rural enterprises does not operate continuously over a year. Enterprises cease operations because of low profits, a lack of finance, or the effects of idiosyncratic shocks. Overall the findings are indicative that rural enterprises are "small businesses in a big continent" where large distances, rural isolation, low population density, and farming risks limit productivity and growth.

  • Watch the video accompanying this paper here.

LSMS-ISA: Publication

Agricultural Production, Dietary Diversity, and Climate Variability

by Andrew Dillon, Kevin McGee, and Gbemisola Oseni
September 2014

Nonseparable household models outline the links between agricultural production and household consumption, yet empirical extensions to investigate the effect of production on dietary diversity and diet composition are limited. Although a significant literature has investigated the calorie-income elasticity abstracting from production, this paper provides an empirical application of the nonseparable household model linking the effect of exogenous variation in planting season production decisions via climate variability on household dietary diversity. Using exogenous variation in degree days, rainfall, and agricultural capital stocks as instruments, the effect of production on household dietary diversity at harvest is estimated. The empirical specifications estimate production effects on dietary diversity using both agricultural revenue and crop production diversity. Significant effects of agricultural revenue and crop production diversity on dietary diversity are estimated. The dietary diversity-production elasticities imply that a 10 percent increase in agricultural revenue or crop diversity results in a 1.8 percent or 2.4 percent increase in dietary diversity, respectively. These results illustrate that agricultural income growth or increased crop diversity may not be sufficient to ensure improved dietary diversity. Increases in agricultural revenue do change diet composition. Estimates of the effect of agricultural income on share of calories by food groups indicate relatively large changes in diet composition. On average, a 10 percent increase in agricultural revenue makes households 7.2 percent more likely to consume vegetables and 3.5 percent more likely to consume fish, and increases the share of tubers consumed by 5.2 percent.


Agriculture in Africa: Telling Facts from Myths

Understanding the Agricultural Input Landscape in Sub-Saharan Africa

by Megan Sheahan and Christopher Barrett
August 2014

Conventional wisdom holds that Sub-Saharan African farmers use few modern inputs despite the fact that most growth-inducing and poverty-reducing agricultural growth in the region is expected to come largely from expanded use of inputs that embody improved technologies, particularly improved seed, fertilizers and other agro-chemicals, machinery, and irrigation. Yet following several years of high food prices, concerted policy efforts to intensify fertilizer and hybrid seed use, and increased public and private investment in agriculture, how low is modern input use in Africa really? This paper revisits Africa's agricultural input landscape, exploiting the unique, recently collected, nationally representative, agriculturally intensive, and cross-country comparable Living Standard Measurement Study-Integrated Surveys on Agriculture covering six countries in the region (Ethiopia, Malawi, Niger, Nigeria, Tanzania, and Uganda). The study uses data from more than 22,000 households and 62,000 plots to investigate a range of commonly held conceptions about modern input use in Africa, distilling the most striking and important findings into 10 key takeaway descriptive results.

  • Watch a powerpoint presentation on this paper here.

Agriculture in Africa: Telling Facts from Myths

The End of Seasonality? New Insights from Sub-Saharan Africa

by Jonathan Kaminski, Luc Christiaensen, and Christopher Gilbert
June 2014

This paper revisits the extent of seasonality in African livelihoods, which has disappeared from Africa's development debate. Through econometric analysis of monthly food price series across 100 locations in three countries during 2000-12, it is shown that seasonal movements in maize wholesale prices explain 20 (Tanzania, Uganda) to 40 (Malawi) percent of their monthly volatility. Monthly maize peak prices are on average 30 (Tanzania, Uganda) to 50 (Malawi) percent higher than their monthly troughs and two to three times higher than the seasonal gaps observed for white maize at the South African Futures Exchange. Furthermore, household food consumption is found to inversely track food prices in each country, decreasing when staple prices increase and increasing when they decline. Clearly, (excess) seasonality in African food markets and consumption persists, necessitating policy attention.

  • Watch a powerpoint presentation on this paper here.
  • Watch the video accompanying this paper here.

Agriculture in Africa: Telling Facts from Myths

Post-Harvest Loss in Sub-Saharan Africa: What Do Farmers Say?

by Jonathan Kaminski and Luc Christiaensen
April 2014

The 2007-2008 global food crisis has renewed interest in post-harvest loss, but estimates remain scarce, especially in Sub-Saharan Africa. This paper uses self-reported measures from nationally representative household surveys in Malawi, Uganda, and Tanzania. Overall, on-farm post-harvest loss adds to 1.4-5.9 percent of the national maize harvest, substantially lower than the Food and Agriculture Organization's post-harvest handling and storage loss estimate for cereals, which is 8 percent. Post-harvest loss is concentrated among less than a fifth of households. It increases with humidity and temperature and declines with better market access, post-primary education, higher seasonal price differences, and possibly improved storage practices. Wider use of nationally representative surveys in studying post-harvest loss is called for.

  • Watch the video accompanying this paper here.

LSMS-ISA: Publication

Explaining Gender Differentials in Agricultural Production in Nigeria

by Gbemisola Oseni, Paul Corral, Markus Goldstein, and Paul Winters
March 2014

This paper uses data from the General Household Survey Panel 2010/11 to analyze differences in agricultural productivity across male and female plot managers in Nigeria. The analysis utilizes the Oaxaca-Blinder decomposition method, which allows for decomposing the unconditional gender gap into (i) the portion caused by observable differences in the factors of production (endowment effect) and (ii) the unexplained portion caused by differences in returns to the same observed factors of production (structural effect). The analysis is conducted separately for the North and South regions, excluding the west of the country. The findings show that in the North, women produce 28 percent less than men after controlling for observed factors of production, while there are no significant gender differences in the South. In the decomposition results, the structural effect in the North is larger than the endowment at the mean. Although women in the North have access to less productive resources than men, the results indicate that even if given the same level of inputs, significant differences still emerge. However for the South, the decomposition results show that the endowment effect is more important than the structural effect. Access to resources explains most of the gender gap in the South and if women are given the same level of inputs as men, the gap will be minimal. The difference in the results for the North and South suggests that policy should vary by region.


LSMS-ISA: Publication

The Nexus between Gender, Collective Action for Public Goods, and Agriculture: Evidence from Malawi

by Nancy McCarthy and Talip Kilic
March 2014

Across the developing world, public goods exert significant impacts on the local rural economy in general and agricultural productivity and welfare outcomes in particular. Economic and social-cultural heterogeneity have, however, long been documented as detrimental to collective capacity to provide public goods. In particular, women are often under-represented in local leadership and decision-making processes, as are young adults and minority ethnic groups. While democratic principles dictate that broad civic engagement by women and other groups could improve the efficiency and effectiveness of local governance and increase public goods provision, the empirical evidence on these hypotheses is scant. This paper develops a theoretical model highlighting the complexity of constructing a "fair" schedule of individual contributions, given heterogeneity in costs and benefits that accrue to people depending, for instance, on their gender, age, ethnicity, and education. The model demonstrates that representative leadership and broad participation in community organizations can mitigate the negative impacts of heterogeneity on collective capacity to provide public goods. Nationally-representative household survey data from Malawi, combined with geospatial and administrative information, are used to test this hypothesis and estimate the relationship between collective capacity for public goods provision and community median estimates of maize yields and household consumption expenditures per capita. The analysis shows that similarities between the leadership and the general population, in terms of gender and age, and active participation by women and young adults in community groups alleviate the negative effects of heterogeneity and increase collective capacity, which in turn improves agricultural productivity and welfare.


LSMS-ISA: Publication

Decomposition of Gender Differentials in Agricultural Productivity in Ethiopia

by Arturo Aguilar, Eliana Carranza, Markus Goldstein, Talip Kilic, and Gbemisola Oseni
January 2014

This paper employs decomposition methods to analyze differences in agricultural productivity between male and female land managers in Ethiopia. It employs data from the 2011-2012 Ethiopian Rural Socioeconomic Survey. An overall 23.4 percent gender differential in agricultural productivity is estimated at the mean in favor of male land managers, of which 10.1 percentage points are explained by differences in land manager characteristics, land attributes, and unequal access to resources (the endowment effect). The remaining 13.4 percentage points are explained by unequal returns to productive components, but cannot be easily tied to specific covariates. These results are mainly driven by non-married female managers (mainly single and divorced). Married female managers do not display such disadvantages. Further analysis along the productivity distribution reveals that gender differentials are more pronounced at mid-levels of productivity and that the share of the gender gap explained by the endowment effect declines as productivity increases. Detailed decomposition of estimates at selected points of the agricultural productivity distribution provides valuable information for policy intervention purposes.


LSMS-ISA: Publication

Decentralized Beneficiary Targeting in Large-Scale Development Programs: Insights from the Malawi Farm Input Subsidy Program

by Talip Kilic, Edward Whitney, and Paul Winters
November 2013

This paper contributes to the long-standing debate on the merits of decentralized beneficiary targeting in the administration of development programs, focusing on the large-scale Malawi Farm Input Subsidy Program. Nationally-representative household survey data are used to systematically analyze the decentralized targeting performance of the program during the 2009-2010 agricultural season. The analysis begins with a standard targeting assessment based on the rates of program participation and the benefit amounts among the eligible and non-eligible populations, and provides decompositions of the national targeting performance into the inter-district, intra-district inter-community, and intra-district intra-community components. This approach identifies the relative contributions of targeting at each level. The results show that the Farm Input Subsidy Program is not poverty targeted and that the national government, districts, and communities are nearly uniform in their failure to target the poor, with any minimal targeting (or mis-targeting) overwhelmingly materializing at the community level. The findings are robust to the choice of the eligibility indicator and the decomposition method. The multivariate analysis of household program participation reinforces these results and reveals that the relatively well-off, rather than the poor or the wealthiest, and the locally well-connected have a higher likelihood of program participation and, on average, receive a greater number of input coupons. Since a key program objective is to increase food security and income among resource-poor farmers, the lack of targeting is a concern and should underlie considerations of alternative targeting approaches that, in part or completely, rely on proxy means tests at the local level.


LSMS-ISA: Publication

From Guesstimates to GPStimates: Land Area Measurement and Implications for Agricultural Analysis

by Calogero Carletto, Sydney Gourlay, and Paul Winters
July 2013

Land area measurement is a fundamental component of agricultural statistics and analysis. Yet, commonly employed self-reported land area measures used in most analysis are not only potentially measured with error, but these errors may be correlated with agricultural outcomes. Measures employing Global Positioning Systems, on the other hand, while not perfect especially on smaller plots, are likely to provide more precise measures and errors less correlated with agricultural outcomes. This paper uses data from four African countries to compare the use of self-reported and Global Positioning Systems land measures to (1) examine the differences between the measures, (2) identify the sources of the differences, and (3) assess the implications of the different measures on agricultural analysis focusing on the inverse productivity relationship. The results indicate that self-reported land areas systematically differ from Global Positioning Systems land measures and that this difference leads to potentially biased estimates of the relationship between land and productivity.


LSMS-ISA: Publication

Missing(ness) in Action: Selectivity Bias in GPS-Based Land Area Measurements

by Talip Kilic, Alberto Zezza, Calogero Carletto, and Sara Savastano
June 2013

Land area is a fundamental component of agricultural statistics, and of analyses undertaken by agricultural economists. While household surveys in developing countries have traditionally relied on farmers' own, potentially error-prone, land area assessments, the availability of affordable and reliable Global Positioning System (GPS) units has made GPS-based area measurement a practical alternative. Nonetheless, in an attempt to reduce costs, keep interview durations within reasonable limits, and avoid the difficulty of asking respondents to accompany interviewers to distant plots, survey implementing agencies typically require interviewers to record GPS-based area measurements only for plots within a given radius of dwelling locations. It is, therefore, common for as much as a third of the sample plots not to be measured, and research has not shed light on the possible selection bias in analyses relying on partial data due to gaps in GPS-based area measures. This paper explores the patterns of missingness in GPS-based plot areas, and investigates their implications for land productivity estimates and the inverse scale-land productivity relationship. Using Multiple Imputation (MI) to predict missing GPS-based plot areas in nationally-representative survey data from Uganda and Tanzania, the paper highlights the potential of MI in reliably simulating the missing data, and confirms the existence of an inverse scale-land productivity relationship, which is strengthened by using the complete, multiply-imputed dataset. The study demonstrates the usefulness of judiciously reconstructed GPS-based areas in alleviating concerns over potential measurement error in farmer-reported areas, and with regards to systematic bias in plot selection for GPS-based area measurement.


LSMS-ISA: Publication

Caught in a Productivity Trap: A Distributional Perspective on Gender Differences in Malawian Agriculture

by Talip Kilic, Amparo Palacios-Lopez, and Markus Goldstein
March 2013

In targeting poverty gains, sub-Saharan African governments have emphasized the alleviation of gender differences in agricultural productivity. The empirical studies on the gender gap, however, have frequently used data that were limited regarding geographic and topical coverage, and/or details on intra-household dynamics. The study provides a nationally-representative analysis of the gender gap in Malawi, and decomposes it, for the first time, at the mean and at selected points of the agricultural productivity distribution into (i) a portion driven by gender differences in levels of observable attributes (the endowment effect), and (ii) a portion driven by gender differences in returns to the same set of observables (the structure effect). Sequentially, the authors unpack the relative contributions of different factors towards the gender gap, and suggest future research priorities to inform policy interventions. The authors find that while female-managed plots are, on average, 25 percent less productive, 82 percent of this differential is explained by differences in endowments, mainly due to high-value crop cultivation and levels of household adult male labor inputs. The factors driving the structure effect include child dependency ratio and effectiveness of household adult male labor and inorganic fertilizer. The gender gap increases across the productivity distribution, ranging from 22 percent at the 10th percentile to 37 percent at the 90th percentile. While it is explained predominantly by the endowment effect in the first half of the distribution, the contribution of the structure effect towards the gender gap increases steadily above the median, standing at 34 percent at the 90th percentile.

  • Download the full appendix for this article here.
  • Read the brief for this article here.

LSMS-ISA: Publication

Weight Calculations for Panel Surveys with Sub-Sampling and Split-Off Tracking

by Kristen Himelein
February 2013

The Living Standards Measurement Study -- Integrated Surveys on Agriculture project collects agricultural and livelihood data in seven countries in Sub-Saharan Africa. In order to maintain representativeness as much as possible over multiple rounds of data collection, a sub-sample of households are selected to have members that have left the household tracked and interviewed in their new location with their new household members. Since the sub-sampling occurs at the level of the household but tracking occurs at the level of the individual, a number of issues arise with the correct calculation for the sub-sampling and attrition corrections. This paper is based on the panel weight calculations for the initial rounds of the Integrated Surveys on Agriculture surveys in Uganda and Tanzania, and describes the methodology used for calculating the weight components related to sub-sampling, tracking, and attrition, as well as the criteria used for trimming and post-stratification. It also addresses complications resulting from members previously classified as having attrited from the sample returning in later rounds.


LSMS-ISA: Publication

Should African Rural Development Strategies Depend on Smallholder Farms? An Exploration of the Inverse Productivity Hypothesis

by Donald Larson, Keijiro Otsuka, Tomoya Matsumoto, and Talip Kilic
September 2012

In Africa, most development strategies include efforts to improve the productivity of staple crops grown on smallholder farms. An underlying premise is that small farms are productive in the African context and that smallholders do not forgo economies of scale -- a premise supported by the often observed phenomenon that staple cereal yields decline as the scale of production increases. This paper explores a research design conundrum that encourages researchers who study the relationship between productivity and scale to use surveys with a narrow geographic reach, when policy would be better served with studies based on wide and heterogeneous settings. Using a model of endogenous technology choice, the authors explore the relationship between maize yields and scale using alternative data. Since rich descriptions of the decision environments that farmers face are needed to identify the applied technologies that generate the data, improvements in the location specificity of the data should reduce the likelihood of identification errors and biased estimates. However, the analysis finds that the inverse productivity hypothesis holds up well across a broad platform of data, despite obvious shortcomings with some components. It also finds surprising consistency in the estimated scale elasticities.


LSMS-ISA: Publication

Livestock and Livelihoods in Rural Tanzania: A Descriptive Analysis of the 2009 National Panel Survey

by Katia Covarrubias, Longin Nsiima and Alberto Zezza
July 2012

This report presents an analysis of rural livelihoods in Tanzania, with particular emphasis on the livestock sub-sector, smallholder farmers’ living standards, and issues with access to productive assets. The study is based on data from the Tanzania National Panel Survey (NPS) collected by the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) from October 2008 to October 2009 as part of the first wave of a nationally representative living standards survey. The report utilizes the extensive information included in this dataset on income sources, productive activities, access to basic services, market participation, access to assets, and a host of other socioeconomic variables to put together a detailed picture of the role of livestock in rural livelihoods.

  • Read the brief for this report here.

LSMS-ISA: Publication

Fact or Artefact: The Impact of Measurement Errors on the Farm Size - Productivity Relationship

by Calogero Carletto, Sara Savastano, and Alberto Zezza
December 2011

This paper revisits the role of land measurement error in the inverse farm size and productivity relationship. By making use of data from a nationally representative household survey from Uganda, in which self-reported land size information is complemented by plot measurements collected using Global Position System devices, the authors reject the hypothesis that the inverse relationship may just be a statistical artifact linked to problems with land measurement error. In particular, the paper explores: (i) the determinants of the bias in land measurement, (ii) how this bias varies systematically with plot size and landholding, and (iii) the extent to which land measurement error affects the relative advantage of smallholders implied by the inverse relationship. The findings indicate that using an improved measure of land size strengthens the evidence in support of the existence of the inverse relationship.

  • Read the brief for this article here.

LSMS-ISA: Publication

Can Diaries Help Improve Agricultural Production Statistics? Evidence from Uganda

by Klaus Deininger, Calogero Carletto, Sara Savastano, and James Muwonge
June 2011

Although good and timely information on agricultural production is critical for policy decisions, the quality of underlying data is often low, and improving data quality can result in high payoffs. This paper uses data from a production diary administered concurrently with a standard household survey in Uganda to analyze the nature and incidence of responses, the magnitude of differences in reported outcomes, and factors that systematically affect these. Despite limited central supervision, diaries elicited a strong response, complemented standard surveys in a number of respects, and were less affected by problems of respondent fatigue than expected. The diary-based estimates of output value consistently exceeded those from the recall-based production survey, in line with reported disposition. Implications for policy and practical administration of surveys are drawn out.


LSMS-ISA: Publication

Reliability of Recall in Agricultural Data

by Kathleen Beegle, Calogero Carletto, and Kristen Himelein
June 2011

Due to survey logistics, agricultural data are usually collected by asking respondents to recall the details of events occurring during past agricultural seasons that took place a number of months prior to the interview. This gap can lead to recall bias in reported data on agricultural activities. The problem is further complicated when interviews are conducted over the course of several months, thus leading to recall of variable length. To test for such recall bias, the length of time between harvest and interview is examined for three African countries with respect to several common agricultural input and harvest measures. The analysis shows little evidence of recall bias impacting data quality. There is some indication that more salient events are less subject to recall decay. Overall, the results allay concerns about the quality of some types of agricultural data collected through recall over lengthy periods.

  • Read the brief for this paper here.

LSMS-ISA: Publication

A Comparison of CAPI and PAPI through a Randomized Field Experiment

by Bet Caeyers, Neil Chalmers and Joachim de Weerdt
November 2010

This paper reports on a randomized survey experiment among 1840 households, designed to compare pen-and-paper interviewing (PAPI) to computer-assisted personal interviewing (CAPI). We find that PAPI data contain a large number of errors, which can be avoided in CAPI. We show that error counts are not randomly distributed across the sample, but are correlated with household characteristics, potentially introducing sample bias in analysis if dubious observations need to be dropped. We demonstrate a tendency for the mean and spread of total measured consumption to be higher on paper compared to CAPI, translating into significantly lower measured poverty, higher measured inequality and higher income elasticity estimates. Investigating further the nature of PAPI’s measurement error for consumption, we fail to reject the hypothesis that it is classical: it attenuates the coefficient on consumption when used as explanatory variable and we find no evidence of bias when consumption is used as dependent variable. Finally, CAPI and PAPI are compared in terms of interview length, costs and respondents’ perceptions.


LSMS-ISA: Publication

Using Mobile Phones to Collect Panel Data in Developing Countries

by Brian Dillon
October 2010

The rapid spread of mobile telephony throughout the developing world offers researchers a new and exciting means of data collection. This paper describes and analyzes the experience of a research project that used mobile phones to collect high frequency, quantitative economic data from households in rural Tanzania. It discusses the research design, highlights mistakes made and lessons learned, and speculates on the applicability of this method in other settings.

  • Read the brief for this paper here.

Guidebooks

LSMS-ISA: Sourcebooks

Spectral Soil Analysis and Household Surveys

by Sydney Gourlay, Ermias Aynekulu, Calogero Carletto and Keith Shepherd
October 2017

This Guidebook is intended to be a reference for survey practitioners looking for guidance on integrating soil health testing in household and farm surveys. The role of soil in agrarian societies is unquestionable, yet the complex nature of soil makes it much more challenging to measure than agricultural inputs such as fertilizers or pesticides. Historically, household surveys either include subjective questions of farmer assessment or rely on national-level soil maps to control for land quality, if anything at all. Recent scientific advances in laboratory soil analysis—via spectral soil testing—have opened the door to more rapid, cost-effective objective measurement of soil health in household surveys. This Guidebook explores the nascent possibility of integrating plot-level soil testing in household surveys through a presentation of results comparing various soil assessment methods and a step-by-step guide for practical implementation.

LSMS-ISA: Sourcebooks

The Use of Non-Standard Units for the Collection of Food Quantity

by Gbemisola Oseni, Josefine Durazo and Kevin McGee
July 2017

This Guidebook is a reference for survey practitioners, providing advice on how to incorporate non-standard units (NSUs) of measurement into household surveys for the collection of food consumption and production quantities. Food consumption and agricultural production are two critical components for monitoring poverty and household well-being in low- and middle-income countries. Accurate measurement of both provides better contextual understanding and contributes to more effective policy design.

LSMS-ISA: Sourcebooks

Measuring the Role of Livestock in the Household Economy

Alberto Zezza, Ugo Pica-Ciamarra, Harriet K. Mugera, Titus Mwisomba, and Patrick Okello
November 2016

This guidebook presents a livestock module template for inclusion in multi-topic and agricultural household surveys in low- and middle-income countries. Its aim is to provide decision makers and survey practitioners—including Bureaus of Statistics, ministries responsible for livestock, non-governmental and civil-society organizations, regional institutions, international organizations, the private sector, and other stakeholders—with a flexible tool to collect data on the role of livestock in the household economy and its contribution to livelihoods.

LSMS-ISA: Sourcebooks

National socioeconomic surveys in forestry

by R.K. Bakkegaard, A. Agrawal, I. Animon, N. Hogarth, D. Miller, L. Persha, E. Rametsteiner, S. Wunder, and A. Zezza
October 2016

Forests and trees contribute to human welfare in various ways. However, quantifying these benefits at national level in order to generate reliable forest-related socioeconomic statistics remains a challenge. Consistent methodologies are needed to enable time-series analysis, providing for better understanding of how forests and trees contribute to sustainable development and informed policy-making. The sourcebook "National socioeconomic surveys in forestry: Guidance and survey modules for measuring the multiple roles of forests in household welfare and livelihoods" discusses the opportunities and challenges to strengthen the collection, reporting and use of forest socioeconomic data in the context of LSMS-type surveys, contributing to better global statistics on values, products and services from forests and trees.

LSMS-ISA: Sourcebooks

Land Area Measurement in Household Surveys

by Gero Carletto, Sydney Gourlay, Siobhan Murray, and Alberto Zezza
July 2016

This Guidebook is intended to be a reference for survey practitioners looking for guidance on measuring land area in household surveys. The menu of available methods for measuring land area is diverse and selection of the appropriate method depends on several factors. In this Guidebook, we focus on those methods that are relevant for agricultural sample surveys, agricultural censuses, multi-topic surveys that cover agriculture (such as most Living Standard Measurement Study (LSMS) surveys), and other smaller-scale household surveys carried out for research purposes and project monitoring and evaluation.


LSMS-ISA: Sourcebooks

Measuring Asset Ownership from a Gender Perspective

by Talip Kilic and Heather Moylan
April 2016

Methodological Experiment on Measuring Asset Ownership from a Gender Perspective (MEXA) is the first randomized household survey experiment demonstrating how variations in respondent selection and questionnaire design affect the measurement of individual ownership and rights to assets. MEXA was implemented by the Uganda Bureau of Statistics, in collaboration with the LSMS team and the United Nations Evidence and Data for Gender Equality (EDGE) project. The technical report provides an extensive analysis of the MEXA data, presents recommendations on intra-household data collection on ownership and rights to assets, and informs the EDGE international guidelines on measuring individual ownership and control of assets being submitted to the UN Statistical Commission in 2017.

  • The MEXA technical report is available here.
  • Appendix A is available here.
  • Appendix B is available here.
  • Appendix C is available here.

LSMS-ISA: Sourcebooks

Measuring Conflict Exposure in Micro-Level Surveys

by Tilman Brück, Patricia Justino, Philip Verwimp and Andrew Tedesco
August 2013

Violent conflict is a key obstacle to overall economic development and specifically to human development. Socioeconomic research on conflict has demonstrated that the circumstances of conflict matter greatly for policies designed to end and overcome the legacies of conflict. Reconstruction policies in particular must build on local conflict legacies, taking into consideration how people were affected by war and violence. This sourcebook aims to increase the capacity of researchers and policymakers to identify consistently, comparatively, and across time, the ways in which violent conflict affects individuals, households and communities along key social and economic dimensions.

  • Read the brief for this paper here.

LSMS-ISA: Sourcebook

Improving the Measurement and Policy Relevance of Migration Information in Multi-topic Household Surveys

by Alan de Brauw and Calogero Carletto
May 2012

Although migration has been an important phenomenon shaping the demographic profile of countries for centuries, the past decade has seen migration rapidly rise to become a prominent feature of the world economy. The main objective of this article is therefore to provide basic guidelines to researchers interested in studying migration for collecting migration information as part of a multi- topic household survey.

  • Download a sample migration module here.

LSMS-ISA: Sourcebooks

Design and Implementation of Fishery Modules in Integrated Household Surveys in Developing Countries

by Christophe Béné, Asafu D.G. Chijere, Edward H. Allison, Katherine Snyder, and Charles Crissman
May 2012

Fish and other aquatic animals contribute to the food security of citizens of developing countries, both as a source of income and as a component of healthy diets, yet fishing is not currently captured in most integrated household surveys. This sourcebook provides essential technical guidance on the design of statistical modules and questionnaires aimed at collecting fishery data at the household level. Background on the main policies important to the fishery sector, information on the data needed to analyze issues of policy relevance, and methodology on the construction of survey questions to collect necessary data are also provided.

Download the sample modules:


LSMS-ISA: Sourcebooks

Agricultural Household Adaptation to Climate Change: Land Management & Investment

by Nancy McCarthy
December 2011

Climate change and food security are two of the most pressing challenges facing the global community today. Improvements in smallholder agricultural systems have the potential to address both, via increases in income in conjunction with mitigation of the adverse effects of climate change. This guidance note on adaptation focuses on improving household survey instruments for understanding agricultural household adaptation responses to climate change with regards to land management and investment options.

  • Download the sample modules here.

LSMS-ISA: Sourcebooks

Agricultural Household Adaptation to Climate Change: Water Stress & Variability

by Sushenjit Bandyopadhyay, Limin Wang, and Marcus Wijnen
August 2011

Global climate change poses a serious threat to food security, particularly among populations in low-income countries. Effective adaptation in the agricultural sector is increasingly recognized as a critical policy component for reducing vulnerability and mitigating adverse climatic impacts. This guidance note on adaptation focuses on improving household survey instruments for understanding agricultural household adaptation responses to weather variability, as well as for measuring local water resources, including rainfall, surface water, and groundwater.


LSMS-ISA: Sourcebook

Comparative Assessment of Computer-Assisted Personal Interview (CAPI) Software Packages

by Arthur Shaw, Lena Nguyen, Ulrike Nischan, and Herschel Sy
July 2011

Written in partnership with the IRIS Center at the University of Maryland, this detailed report identifies, evaluates, and compares the functionalities of software packages for the development of CAPI applications suitable for implementing complex household surveys. The report is accompanied by the following documents:


LSMS-ISA: Sourcebook

Tracking in Longitudinal Household Surveys

by Firman Witoelar
July 2011

Sample attrition is one of the inherent challenges faced by any longitudinal household survey, and among surveys in developing countries, mobility accounts for much of this attrition. Tracking individuals and households can entail significant costs and may require specific focus by the organization conducting the survey. Drawing from experiences from previous and ongoing surveys, this paper presents recommendations on methodology for successfully implementing tracking in panel household surveys.

  • Read the brief for this paper here.

LSMS-ISA: Sourcebook

Surveying Justice: A Practical Guide to Household Surveys

by Kristen Himelein, Nicholas Menzies, and Michael Woolcock
January 2010

This guide aims to be a practical starting point for justice practitioners interested in survey design, as well as survey researchers interested in incorporating justice questions into their work. It provides guidance on designing a survey, suggested topics and questions, and ideas to facilitate a constructive engagement in discussions around justice in development practice.


LSMS-ISA: Sourcebook

Are You Being Served?

by Samia Amin, Jishnu Das, and Markus Goldstein
December 2007

Improving service delivery for the poor is an important way to help the poor lift themselves out of poverty. This book presents and evaluates tools and techniques to measure service delivery and increase quality in health and education. The authors highlight field experience in deploying these methods through a series of case studies from 12 countries around the world. Different methodological tools used to evaluate public-sector performance are presented along with country-specific experiences that highlight the challenges and lessons learned in using different techniques. The findings show that, while measuring quality is rarely easy, the resulting data can be a powerful tool for policy change.


LSMS-ISA: Sourcebook

Energy Policies and Multitopic Household Surveys: Guidelines for Questionnaire Design in Living Standards Measurement Studies

by Kyran O'Sullivan and Douglas F. Barnes
April 2006

Accurate data on household energy use, combined with other data on household well-being, is essential to monitor progress in the household energy transition from traditional biomass fuels to modern fuels and electricity and to evaluate the effect of government energy policies on living conditions. Multi-topic socioeconomic household surveys à la LSMS can provide data with which to make these measurements. Designers of LSMS and other multitopic household surveys can use these guidelines to help ensure that their surveys provide extensive and reliable data on household energy use.


LSMS-ISA: Sourcebook

Designing Household Survey Questionnaires for Developing Countries: Lessons from 15 Years of the Living Standards Measurement Study

by Margaret Grosh and Paul Glewwe
May 2000

The objective of this book is to provide detailed advice on how to design multi-topic household surveys based on the experience of past household surveys. The book will help identify define objectives, identify data needed to analyze objectives, and draft questionnaires to collect such data. The book first discuss the "big picture" concerning the overall design of surveys, modules to be used, and procedures for combining modules into questionnaires and questionnaires into surveys. Individual modules are discussed in depth as well as major policy issues. The process of manipulating modules to form a better 'fit' in the case of a specific survey is examined. Specific modules include: consumption, education, health employment, anthropometry, non-labor income, housing, price data, environmental issues, fertility, household income, savings, household enterprises, and time use. The third volume provides draft questionnaires, referenced in the prior chapters.


LSMS-ISA: Sourcebook

Manual for Planning and Implementing the Living Standards Measurement Study Surveys

by Margaret Grosh and Juan Muñoz
May 1996

This manual provides practical information on how to implement an LSMS-style survey from the planning stages through implementation in the field. Topics addressed include survey budgets and work plans, questionnaire formatting and development, sample design, field operations, data management and dissemination, and ideas for spurring data analysis. The extensive set of quality controls used in LSMS surveys is explained in detail, as is the process of adapting the LSMS methodology to each country's individual objectives and constraints.

Working Paper Series

The LSMS Working Paper Series (1980-2002) disseminated intermediate research products from the LSMS program in the first two decades from its inception. Publications in the series included critical reviews covering different aspects of the LSMS data collection program and reports on improved methodologies for using LSMS survey data. Later publications recommended specific survey, questionnaire, and data processing designs and demonstrated the breadth of policy analysis that can be carried out using LSMS survey data.

Each link below opens a page with multiple working papers listed in reverse order by date of publication. Each document title links to an abstract and several download options.

Briefs

LSMS-ISA: Brief

Results from the Dynamics of Wellbeing in Ethiopia Project

Read a series of briefs that summarize various results on key topics related to the dynamics of wellbeing from the 2013-2014 Ethiopia Socioeconomic Survey conducted by the Ethiopian Central Statistical Agency.

LSMS: Brief

Farm-Level Pathways to Improved Nutritional Status

September 2015

Read a brief on a special issue of the Journal of Development Studies which fills an important gap in the literature by generating evidence on the contribution of agricultural household production to improvements in nutrition.

LSMS-ISA: Brief

Child Anthropometrics and Malnutrition in Malawi

March 2014

Read a brief that summarizes the anthropometric data and resulting malnutrition indicators from the Malawi Third Integrated Household Survey.

LSMS-ISA: Brief

Child Anthropometrics and Malnutrition in Uganda

March 2014

Read a brief that summarizes the anthropometric data and resulting malnutrition indicators from the first wave of the Uganda National Panel Survey.

LSMS-ISA: Brief

Gender and Agricultural Productivity in Malawi

August 2013

Read a brief of a paper that unpacks the relative contributions of different factors towards the gender gap in agricultural productivity, and suggest future research priorities to inform policy interventions.

LSMS-ISA: Brief

Measuring Conflict in Micro-Level Surveys

August 2013

Read a brief of our sourcebook written to help researchers identify consistently, comparatively, and across time, the ways in which violent conflict affects individuals, households and communities along key social and economic dimensions.

LSMS-ISA: Brief

Measurement, Farm Size and Productivity

June 2013

Read a brief of a paper analyzing GPS vs. farmers' estimates of farm size, which finds that more accurate measurement of farmers’ plots if anything reinforces, rather than weakening, the existing evidence of an inverse farm size-productivity relationship.

LSMS-ISA: Brief

Results from the 2011-2012 Ethiopia Rural Socioeconomic Survey

Read a series of briefs that summarize various results on key topics from the 2011-2012 Ethiopia Rural Socioeconomic Survey, conducted by the Ethiopian Central Statistical Agency.

LSMS-ISA: Brief

Results from the 2010-2011 Nigeria General Household Survey - Panel

Read a series of briefs that summarize various results on key topics from the Nigeria 2010-2011 General Household Survey - Panel, conducted by the Nigeria Bureau of Statistics.

LSMS-ISA: Brief

Shocks and Coping in Sub-Saharan Africa

March 2013

Read a brief that summarizes the shocks that households experience in Malawi, Niger, Nigeria, Tanzania, and Uganda, as well as household coping strategies and their consequences.

LSMS-ISA: Brief

Using Mobile Phones to Collect Panel Data

December 2012

Read our brief on an experiment conducted in Tanzania on the use of mobile phones to gather high frequency quantitative data on agricultural inputs and farmers’ subjective expectations for uncertain outcomes such as weather, prices, and crop yields.

LSMS-ISA: Brief

Reliability of Recall in Agricultural Data

October 2012

Read our brief on a paper investigating the extent of recall bias with regards to several important agricultural input and harvest measures, which finds that farmers' reports of harvest, crop sales, and input use are not significantly affected by a longer recall period.

LSMS-ISA: Brief

Tracking in Panel Household Surveys

October 2012

Read a brief that explains the necessity of tracking movers in panel household surveys, and provides key advice on implementation, tracking design, and ethical concerns with regards to tracking.

LSMS-ISA: Brief

Livestock and Livelihoods in Tanzania: Can the Sector Deliver on Growth and Poverty Reduction?

July 2012

Read a brief of our report analyzing rural livelihoods in Tanzania, with particular emphasis on the livestock sub-sector.


Last updated: 2017-10-24




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