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LSMS: Answering Survey

Survey Design & Analysis Tools

The LSMS team offers and supports various tools to assist researchers and practitioners in the design, implementation and analysis of household surveys.

Survey Design Tools

LSMS-ISA: Publication


Developers of new surveys may find it useful to refer to sample questionnaires as well as to guidelines on questionnaire design.

LSMS-ISA: Publication

Survey Documentation

The survey process requires the development of a series of documents other than the questionnaire such as field staff manuals and basic information documents.

LSMS-ISA: Publication

Sampling with Probability Proportional to Size

A Stata do program to select a sample using the Probability Proportional to Size (PPS) procedure.

LSMS-ISA: Sourcebooks

Measuring Conflict Exposure in Micro-Level Surveys

by Tilman Brück, Patricia Justino, Philip Verwimp, Alexandra Avdeenko, 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
November 2007

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

The Analysis of Household Surveys: A Microeconometric Approach to Development Policy

by Angus Deaton
July 1997

This book is about the analysis of household survey data from developing countries and about how such data can be used to cast light on a range of policy issues. Much of the analysis works with household budget data, collected from income and expenditure surveys. Data from several different economies are used to illustrate the analysis, drawing examples of policy issues from economies as diverse as Cote d'Ivoire, India, Pakistan, South Africa, Taiwan, and Thailand. One of the aims of the book is to bring together the relevant statistical and econometric methods that are useful for building the bridge between data and policy. Chapter 1 describes those features of survey design that need to be understood in order to undertake appropriate analysis. Chapter 2 discusses the general econometric and statistical issues that arise when using survey data for estimation and inference. Chapter 3 discusses the use of survey data to measure welfare, poverty, and distribution. Chapter 4 discusses the use of household budget data to explore patterns of household demand. Chapter 5 is about price reform, its effects on equity and efficiency, and how to measure them. Chapter 6 is concerned with the role of household consumption and saving in economic development. The book also includes a code appendix, which gives code and programs using the STATA code, and serves as a template for the users own analysis.

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.


Survey Solutions

The Survey Solutions Computer-Assisted Personal Interview (CAPI) software developed by the World Bank assists governments, statistical offices and non-governmental organisations in conducting complex surveys with dynamic structures using tablet devices. The software can be tailored to the needs of the clients, allowing them to successfully complete simple and more sophisticated projects: from basic evaluation questionnaires to complicated multistage panel surveys.

The Survey Solutions software is offered free of charge, its development being co-financed by the World Bank, Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. Surveys can be conducted on low-cost Android tablets. Survey Solutions is managed by the DECCT team, with collaboration and technical assistance from the LSMS team.

The CAPI Advantage

Introducing CAPI dramatically reduces the time lag between data collection and data analysis. Since manual coding of the responses recorded with pen and paper is no longer necessary and data validation is done in the time of data collection the information is ready for statistical analysis as soon as surveying is completed.

In addition to that, using tablet devices for interviewing yields many other benefits:

  • It reduces the number of coding errors. Surveys can contain validation data that make it impossible to enter values outside a given range. Supervisors may also view and check the collected information as soon as the enumerators finish the interviews, together with possible error reports. Automated routing reduces the incidence of missing data. Changes in the structure of the questionnaire can be instantly reflected on the interviewers' devices. This allows for last-minute updates or error corrections.
  • CAPI technology simplifies conducting surveys with dynamic structure, where the questions to be asked will vary depending on the answers given by the respondent. For instance, if a person participating in a survey reports being employed, an additional section inquiring about the type of job, working hours or income can be displayed.
  • The software's support for dynamic structure of questionnaires is particularly helpful while conducting studies in an experimental setting, as different sets of questions can be effectively randomly assigned to different respondents.

CAPI is better equipped to deal with personal data. Respondents might prefer to type their own answers to more sensitive questions on the device screen: their answers will not be overheard and their handwriting cannot be recognised. The information exchanged between interviewers, supervisors and the headquarters can be encrypted.

CAPI allows the teams of interviewers to be managed more efficiently. The sample can be updated and new assignments added over-the-air, not requiring the enumerators to return to the headquarters. Multiple enumerators can share the same device, using their individual usernames and passwords.

The technology is continuously improved. In the forthcoming releases the World Bank's Survey Solutions CAPI software will support gathering additional types of data, such as GPS coordinates, photos or video clips. We also plan to enable the users to couple the tablets with additional measuring devices, connected through the USB port.


Comparative Living Standards Project

The Living Standards Measurement Study (LSMS) team has worked to create a database of harmonized variables from LSMS surveys to facilitate comparative research. The variables that have been created use internationally recognized standards where available.

The Comparative Living Standards Project provides a platform through which the harmonized variables can be analyzed. Users can conduct online analysis with results provided in easily downloadable Excel files. Users needing only simple analyses can use the standard indicators to do basic analyses, and users wanting more creative control can create their own variables by combining the harmonized variables. The CLSP allows users to conduct on-demand analyses from simple frequencies through regression analysis.


PovcalNet is an interactive computational tool that replicates the calculations made by World Bank researchers in estimating the extent of absolute poverty worldwide. PovcalNet also allows for calculations of poverty measures under various assumptions as well as the assembly of estimates using alternative country groupings. The tool is self-contained and features reliable software that quickly computes the relevant calculations from its in-built database.


ADePT is a software platform for automated economic analysis, developed to automate and standardize the production of analytical reports. ADePT uses micro-level data from various types of surveys, such as Household Budget Surveys, Demographic and Health Surveys and Labor Force surveys to produce rich sets of tables and graphs for a particular area of economic research, dramatically reducing the time required for the production of analytical reports.

Last updated: 2014-12-12

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