Number 24: Understanding and improving data quality relating to low-income households




Author:  David Johnson and Rosanna Scutella

This report explores issues concerning the reliability of data and the implications for the measurement of inequality, poverty and social welfare.

The authors analyse ways to measure the lot of low-income households by comparing data from a range of weekly and annual income surveys; expenditure and income surveys; income survey data and administrative data from government transfer records; and income survey data with income expected from eligibility criteria.

The report finds that factors affecting measurements of the circumstance of low-income households include:

  • conceptual issues such as the choice of the most appropriate unit of observation, period of observation, metric of measurement and source of data; and
  • practical issues including changing circumstances, underreporting of income, between-household transfers of income and consumption goods, and issues concerned with household definition.

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