To Practice 7 – I’m not the World Bank

Before starting my Nicaraguan experience, dreams of glory flooded my ego. Reviewing all my studies on data collection, I knew it would have been a priority to collect data from households survey as fast as possible. Because interviewing the first household of the community today and the last one in 6-months time means introducing a significant source of bias in the research, especially in rural economies subject to seasonality. However, I’m realising that I was naive. Because we’re just two interviewers, because I didn’t consider my stomach could have left me in my room for one entire week, because I go to and from the community using my stick, not my jeep. In other words, because I’m not the World Bank, nor Indiana Jones. To sum up, my goal is to have enough large control group to match with the treatment of the households who participate to a micro credit scheme – the ‘Small Business Program. I have two possibilities: surrendering to the extended collection time bias or opting for a second best solution. I’m trying to move toward the second option. In parallel with the community survey, I’m working with students of a technical high school to assess the program Education That Pays For Itself, run by the English NGO, Teach A Man To Fish. Among the NGO’s outcomes of interests, there is the socioeconomic condition of the students’ families. Hence, I’ training the students to interview their families (belonging to other communities though), in order to increase quickly the treatment group. Therefore, I can focus my interviews in the community on treatment group mainly, shortening the data collection timing, and getting information on students’ families. The assumption is that from the students’ families, coming from rural background in Nicaragua, a PSM approach will allow me to select part of my control group. I fancy to better solutions…

P.S. Edgar, I know you’re thinking about the horse!


3 responses to “To Practice 7 – I’m not the World Bank

  1. haha, you just read my mind, Toni! Be sure you give enough training to the students, and cross fingers for they not to over-report some issues. Good luck!

  2. Hi!

    I read your post and I found very interesting. Maybe I can share an experience with you.

    During the fall of 2008, we were able to interview and show a small 2-3 min video to 1057 households in rural Kenya with the help of 7 young out- of-school workers from the same community. It took them 2 months of work, 5 days/week to meet all the households we randomly selected. There was a research assistant from Netherlands at the base point where workers had to go each morning and returned to by 17h00. A research assistant was also in charge of entering the data into a database that was sent back to Canada weekly for checking . (With the advance in technology and the drop in price, you should be able to use an i-pad or something similar to enter the data on the spot and save on the data entry (a palm or i-touch would be too small to be convenient)).

    In terms of methods, one issues that might occur by asking children to interview their parents, is that questions will be asked differently to each households and you might get a bias. Also, hiring people from the community will provide good training and experience. In my experience, I found these young workers to be very cooperative once we told them exactly what we wanted from them (since it was their first job experience, they do need to hear how to behave at work and what is expected from them).

    Also, if you ask questions yourself to the households, (and here I’m guessing that you are not from that area) you might get a bias cause by people trying to tell you what you want to hear. So you might want to hire people from around town, although you might get stocked with political issues (strict management might help to reduce these issues)…

    So, hopefully it helps a bit. Do not hesitate to ask question if you need more advice. And good luck in your research!

    • A great feedback! I got all your suggestions, very useful indeed. However, I don’t have the resources to hire community members to work with me. Indeed, I’m doing all by myself: preparing the questionnaire (based on World Bank’s models); carrying out interviews, and entering the data into Stata. That’s why I have to face the trade-off between time and the possible bias letting the students to interview their families. Regarding the fact interviewed could tend to go along with which they think should be the answer, I am trying to appear as neutral as possible (also, I have introduced some double check questions to control for consisteny in their responses).
      Thank you Véronique!

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