Can Gifting Improve Survey Data Quality in Developing Countries? Results from a Field Experiment in India

Guy Stecklov, Hebrew University of Jerusalem
Alexander Weinreb, University of Texas at Austin
Calogero Carletto, World Bank Group

Gifting respondents is a long established practice in survey data collection. Empirical support for this practice appears to be growing somewhat in developed countries, but there is no empirical support for this practice in developing countries. Furthermore, it is very possible that the effects of gifting – whatever they are – might differ considerably across cultures. In this paper, we present theoretical concerns about how gifting might improve and harm survey data quality. We then describe the results of a field experiment carried out in Karnataka, India, which was designed to determine whether, and to what extent, the payment of respondents impacts the quality of survey data. Our findings on gifting are consistent with a type of desirability bias on specific questions suggesting respondents receiving gifts hope to present themselves as poorer and more needy, most likely in hopes that the current gift may be replicated again in the future. We discuss the implication of these findings.

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Presented in Session 55: Data and Measurement Challenges in the Developing World - Field Validation Innovations