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The concept of the household


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Leone, T., E. Coast & S. Randall (2008) "The concept of the household". Paper presented at ESRC Research Methods Festival. Oxford. 30th June - 3rd July, 2008.

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The concept of the household

  1. 1. The Concept of the Household: From Survey Design to Policy Planning Ernestina Coast (LSE) Tiziana Leone (LSE) Sara Randall (UCL) Funded by ESRC
  2. 2. <ul><li>Data designers & collectors have: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>clear ideas about why need something called ‘household’ </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>clear aims </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>clear understanding of household definition </li></ul></ul><ul><li>BUT what about analysts / users / consumers far removed from collection? </li></ul><ul><ul><li>MIGHT: look at definition and assume this is the unit of production, consumption, socialisation central to the development process </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>MIGHT: not even look at definition because they assume they know what a household is </li></ul></ul>
  3. 3. Do household definitions matter? <ul><li>More variables being added in ‘household section’ </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Way of measuring wealth / poverty / access to facilities which influence health </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>New level of analysis / explanation </li></ul></ul><ul><li>More use (researchers & policy makers) made of publicly available data </li></ul><ul><li>Recognition of importance of society’s basic unit as influence upon members’ well-being </li></ul><ul><li>Increasing use of ‘indicators’ based on household data (e.g. MDGs, asset indicators) </li></ul>
  4. 4. The Issue <ul><li>Why does the definition matter? </li></ul><ul><li>What are consequences of household definition? </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Data commissioners </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Data collectors </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Data analysts </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Data users </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Policy makers </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Planning / implementing targeted interventions </li></ul></ul></ul>What are the implications for “household” members?
  5. 5. We are not….. Redefining the definition of the household
  6. 6. Methods <ul><li>Document review (1950-present) Sub-Saharan Africa </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Review census reports, enumerators manuals, questionnaires >1960 </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Review major household surveys since 1980 </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Key informant interviews (International) </li></ul><ul><li>Ground truthing fieldwork (Tanzania case study) </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Cognitive interviews </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Ethnographic interviews </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Modelling differences, to include: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Female headed households </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Household dependency ratios </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Asset indices </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Household size </li></ul></ul>
  7. 7. Census Data Collection: issues in household definition <ul><li>AIM : complete enumeration of population along with individual level characteristics for planning purposes </li></ul><ul><li>Themes in definitions </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Eating together </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Common housekeeping </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Living together </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Answerable to head </li></ul></ul>&quot;Respondents who live in the same housing unit or in connected premises and have common cooking arrangements (eat their food together) Ethiopia 1994 <ul><li>a group of persons who normally live and eat together Kenya 1969 </li></ul><ul><li>a group of persons who normally live and eat together, whether or not they are related by blood or marriage Kenya 1979/89 </li></ul><ul><li>- adds answerable to the same household head Kenya 1999 </li></ul>A household consists of a person, or a group of persons, who occupy a common dwelling (or part of it) for at least four days a week and who provide themselves jointly with food and other essentials for living. In other words, they live together as a unit. S.Africa 1996 'private household' ..defined as a group of persons living together and sharing living expenses. Tanzania 1967/78/88
  8. 8. Census Data Collection: issues in household definition <ul><li>AIM : complete enumeration of population along with individual level characteristics for planning purposes </li></ul><ul><li>DIFFICULTIES EVOKED </li></ul><ul><ul><li>servants – are they part of household or separate? </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Boarders / lodgers </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Absent household head </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Polygamy </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Complicated patterns of male female residence (Ghana) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Children in boarding school </li></ul></ul>In a polygamous marriage if the wives are living in separate dwelling unit [SIC] and cook and eat separately, treat the wives as separate 'households'. Each wife with her children will therefore constitute a separate household. The husband will be listed in the household where he spent the reference night. If the wives eat together and live in the same dwelling unit then treat them as one 'household‘ Kenya 1989, 1999 [in Gomoa localities] men and their wives do not stay together…. although a man and his wife share the same housekeeping arrangements and are catered for as one unit and may often sleep together, they may not live together. The approach adopted in the census was that since the man and wife do not live together, they do not constitute one household Ghana 1970 the case of plural wives living in the same house with their husband, with each wife and children occupying their own set of rooms the husband might eat with each wife in turn. In such a case the man, his wives and their children should constitute one household. Ghana 1970
  9. 9. Census Data Collection : issues in household definition <ul><li>Summary: </li></ul><ul><li>household definition is practical solution to census aims of total enumeration </li></ul><ul><li>recognition (usually) that is a reduced social unit </li></ul><ul><li>recognition that compromises are made </li></ul><ul><li>set of rules for enumerators to follow </li></ul><ul><li>continuity over time – comparability </li></ul>Creation of what van de Walle (2006) calls ‘a statistical household’
  10. 10. Do household definitions matter?
  11. 11. Tanzanian example: language and the household “ So when we , at NBS (in mid 1970s) when we sent and we discussed this in meetings and we said well, we now have to look for a word in Kiswahili – there were suggestions - more than one – as usual. We said, wel,l we have the National Kiswahili Council and we have the Dept of Kiswahili at UDSM. We shall send them the definition of the household as we know it from the UN. Now we shall ask them to suggest what is it the Kiswahili equivalent that would fit that UN definition, that long thing, and we shall suggest that meetings have suggested that it should probably be this or that but maybe there may be some others, and they also came up with the kaya. Kaya is the arrangement that best suits that definition of the household from the UN.” (Senior retired Tanzanian Statistician/Demographer)
  12. 12. Sample surveys: issues in household definition (eg: WFS, DHS, WHS) <ul><li>Household definition </li></ul><ul><ul><li>practical: to enable the identification of individuals for individual questionnaires </li></ul></ul>“ The household is a device used to get at the individual. The household is the sampling unit while the individual is the observational unit. ” World Health Survey 2002 ‘ main purpose of household questionnaire was to identify women who were eligible for the individual interview’ Zambia DHS 1992, 1996
  13. 13. Sample surveys: issues in household definition (eg: WFS, DHS) <ul><li>much more standardised (still some local variations) </li></ul><ul><li>Little variation between core questionnaires and those used by countries </li></ul><ul><li>Little development over time </li></ul><ul><li>Comparability across time and space </li></ul>Ghana pilot (WFS) provided some detailed insight into the problems of designing verbatim local language questionnaires: Difficulty of translating the concept ‘household’ in any of the three languages tested (Ewe, Asante-Ti and Dagbani) Cleland et al 1987, p174
  14. 14. A clue: households in European surveys Household definition usually ‘up to respondent’ GGS: &quot;R is supposed to mention the members of his/her household without any further explanation. If R doubts about whether to include a certain person among the household members or not, consider the following definition….”. FFS: &quot;The definition of a &quot;household&quot; is largely up to the respondent. In case there is any discussion about this, a household is a person or a group of persons who usually live(s) and eat(s) together”.
  15. 15. Do household definitions matter? <ul><li>Issues of misrepresentation </li></ul><ul><li>Labour / resources / consumption/ education / poverty… </li></ul><ul><li>Sub-groups </li></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Homeless </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Street children </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Mobile production systems (fishers, pastoralists, miners, construction) </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Children in boarding schools </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Migrants </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Single person households </li></ul></ul></ul>
  16. 16. The Issue <ul><li>Definition of ‘household’ in African censuses & surveys </li></ul><ul><ul><li>What is a household? </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Much work examines / critiques household (eg: van de Walle 2006) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Anthropologists very critical of concept </li></ul></ul>
  17. 17. Do household definitions matter? <ul><ul><li>Question: </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>“ What is a household?” </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Answer: </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>“ 6 people” </li></ul></ul>
  18. 18. I Based on your experience in Tanzania how would you define a household? R A household? [laughs all round] 6 persons. [more laughter] I And then what do you base that on? R Well it’s the government that says when you buy a CHF card it’s for 6 persons …Community Health Fund, the payment scheme. How to define a household? People who eat from the same kitchen. That’s what I would say . From European embassy Do household definitions matter?
  19. 19. Interviews with the ‘elite’ <ul><li>Clear distinction between the ‘ Operational’ household of the data collectors and the unit of analysis of the users </li></ul><ul><li>Data collectors have very clear idea of household definition </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Loss of information rather minimal </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Not a major issue for comparative purposes </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Contrasting preferences when it comes to decide the focus of the definition (eg social, eating, economic) </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Users not aware of definition issues </li></ul><ul><ul><li>The main concern is to have a survey at all </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Need for updated information is the strongest drive </li></ul></ul>
  20. 20. A simplified example….
  23. 25. An example from 2007 fieldwork in Tanzania = Steven Victoria
  24. 26. An example from 2007 fieldwork in Tanzania = Steven Victoria Ernest Judy (13) Joy Mary Anna
  25. 27. An example from 2007 fieldwork in Tanzania = Steven Victoria Ernest Judy (13) Joy Mary Anna 1 Male headed household 6 adults and 9 children Dependency ratio =1.5 Maria (13)
  26. 28. An example from 2007 fieldwork in Tanzania = Steven Victoria Ernest Judy (13) Joy Mary Anna 1 Male headed household 4 adults and 9 children Dependency ratio =2.25 Maria (13) Eating out of same pot (Consumption unit)
  27. 29. An example from 2007 fieldwork in Longido = Steven Victoria Ernest Judy (13) Joy Mary Anna 1 Male headed household 6 adults and 9 children Dependency ratio =1.5 Maria (13) Maasai 3 households: 1 male & 2 female headed 3 adults + 6 children (DR= 2) 1 woman+2 children (DR=2) 1 woman + 2 children (DR=2) Sleeping last night (census)
  28. 30. Emerging themes <ul><ul><li>Single person households </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Urban affluent </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Household headship? </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Migrants and mobility </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Low-income rental neighbourhoods </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Occupations </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Mining </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Agribusiness </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Construction </li></ul></ul></ul>Where is the cooking pot?