The Power of Survey Design: A User's Guide for Managing Surveys, Interpreting Results, and Influencing Respondents

The Power of Survey Design: A User's Guide for Managing Surveys, Interpreting Results, and Influencing Respondents

The Power of Survey Design: A User's Guide for Managing Surveys, Interpreting Results, and Influencing Respondents

The Power of Survey Design: A User's Guide for Managing Surveys, Interpreting Results, and Influencing Respondents

Synopsis

The wording of survey questions can have a dramatic effect on responses, often as much as a 30 per cent swing. Skewed responses are not limited to the wording of questions: comparing survey results across international boundaries is often done without considering and controlling for variable factors. This practical guide on all the steps involved with survey implementation covers survey management, questionnaire design, sampling, respondent's psychology and survey participation, and data management. It will also provide users of survey data with insight into what sorts of problems and biases to look for in different data sources.

Excerpt

The vast majority of data used for economic research, analysis, and policy design comes from surveys—surveys of households, firms, schools, hospitals, and market participants. In today’s world it is easy to go online and download all kinds of data—infant mortality rates, trends in inflation, poverty levels, degree of inequality, growth rates of investment and GDP. Most users of these data do not think very much about where they come from. But they should. Take what seems a fairly straightforward piece of information, such as the amount of gross investment in China in 2004: the real answer to this question is all of the expenditure or effort households, firms, and the government made during the year to increase or enhance the value of the land, buildings, and machinery that can be used to produce goods and services. It would be extraordinarily costly—probably impossible—to actually count all this activity. So, in practice researchers, officials, and market participants will rely on an estimate that is derived from surveys of households and firms. The accuracy of the estimate will depend on how well the survey is done.

This innovative book is both a “how-to” about carrying out highquality surveys, especially in the challenging environment of developing countries; and a “user’s guide” for anyone who uses statistical data for any purpose. Reading this book will provide users of data with a wealth of insight into what kinds of problems or biases to look for in different data sources, based on the underlying survey approaches that were used to generate the data. In that sense the book is an invaluable “skeptic’s guide to data.”

For the producer of data through surveys, Giuseppe Iarossi has written a straightforward, practical guide to survey design and implementation. This guide is based on his years of experience implementing surveys of firms in a variety of institutional settings in Africa, East Asia, and South Asia. It is a readable guide that covers such issues as writing questionnaires, training enumerators, testing different wordings of questions, sample selection, data entry, and data cleaning.

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