The Reliability of Retrospective Data on Asset Ownership as a Measure of Past Household Wealth

Katrina Mullan, Erin Sills, Simone Bauch

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Asset ownership is frequently used to assess the welfare status of households in rural areas of developing countries. Researchers often want to know the prior status of households or how that status has changed over time. In a case study in the Brazilian Amazon, we compare recall data with contemporary reports on assets from a panel survey. We consider multiple dimensions of the consistency of retrospective and contemporary data and seek to identify characteristics that lead to more accurate recall. We find that although retrospective data provide some information on past assets owned by households, they do not provide a highly accurate measure of either individual asset ownership or counts of types of assets owned. Consistent with previous studies, we find that items with greater salience are recalled more accurately. We also find that wealthier households exhibit upward bias when recalling assets owned in a previous period.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)223-238
Number of pages16
JournalField Methods
Volume26
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - Aug 1 2014

Keywords

  • asset ownership
  • Brazil
  • household survey
  • recall data

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