Living Standards Measurement Survey 2004 (Wave 3 Panel)
Over the past decade, Albania has been undergoing a transition toward a market economy and a more open society. It has faced severe internal and external challenges, such as lack of basic infrastructure, rapid collapse of output and inflation rise after the collapse of the communist regime, turmoil during the 1997 pyramid crisis, and social and economic instability because of the 1999 Kosovo crisis. Despite these shocks, Albanian economy has recovered from a very low income level through a sustained growth during the past few years, even though it remains one of the poorest countries in Europe, with GDP per capita at around 1,300$.
Based on the Living Standard Measurement Study (LSMS) 2002 survey data (wave 1, henceforth), for the first time in Albania INSTAT has computed an absolute poverty line on a nationally representative poverty survey at household level. Based on this welfare measure, one quarter (25.4 percent) of the Albanian population, or close to 790,000 individuals, were defined as poor in 2002. The distribution of poverty is also disproportionately rural, as 68 percent of the poor are in rural areas, against 32 percent in urban areas (as compared to a total urban population well over 40 percent). These estimates are quite sensitive to the choice of the poverty line, as there are a large number of households clustered around the poverty line. Income related poverty is compounded by the severe lack of access to basic infrastructure, education and health services, clean water, etc., and the ability of the Government to address these issues is complicated by high levels of internal and external migration that are not well understood.
The availability of a nationally representative survey is crucial as the paucity of household-level information has been a constraining factor in the design, implementation and evaluation of economic and social programs in Albania. Two recent surveys carried out by the Albanian Institute of Statistics (INSTAT) –the 1998 Living Conditions Survey (LCS) and the 2000 Household Budget Survey (HBS)– drew attention, once again, to the need for accurately measuring household welfare according to well-accepted standards, and for monitoring these trends on a regular basis. This target is well-achieved by drawing information over time on a panel component of LSMS 2002 households, namely the Albanian Panel Survey (APS), conducted in 2003 and 2004.
An increasing attention to the policies aimed at achieving the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) is paid by the National Parliament of Albania, recently witnessed by the resolution approved in July 2003, where it pushes “[...] the total commitment of both state structures and civil society to achieve the MDGs in Albania by 2015”. The path towards a sustained growth is constantly monitored through the National Reports on Progress toward Achieving the MDGs, which involves a close collaboration of the UN with the national institutions, led by the National Strategy for Social and Economic Development (NSSED) Department of the Ministry of Finance. Also, in the process leading to the Poverty Reduction Strategy Paper (PRSP; also known in Albania as Growth and Poverty Reduction Strategy, GPRS), the Government of Albania reinforced its commitment to strengthening its own capacity to collect and analyze on a regular basis information it needs to inform policy-makers.
In its first phase (2001-2006), this monitoring system will include the following data collection instruments: (i) Population and Housing Census; (ii) Living Standards Measurement Surveys every 3 years, and (iii) annual panel surveys. The focus during this first phase of the monitoring system is on a periodic LSMS (in 2002 and 2005), followed by panel surveys on a sub-sample of LSMS households (APS 2003, 2004 and 2006), drawing heavily on the 2001 census information. Here our target is to illustrate the main characteristics of the APS 2004 data with reference to the LSMS.
The survey work was undertaken by the Living Standards Unit of INSTAT, with the technical assistance of the World Bank.
Kind of Data
Sample survey data [ssd]
Unit of Analysis
Domains: Tirana, other urban,rura
Unit of Analysis
Producers and sponsors
Authoring entity/Primary investigators
Institute of Statistics of Albania
The World Bank
Institute for Social and Economic Research
University of Essex
Panel sample, with LSMS 2002 and 2004
The APS 2004 collects information on 1,797 valid observations at household level and 7,476 at individual level. The sample of the second and third waves of the panel (APS) has been selected from the LSMS 2002 in order to be representative of Albanian households and individuals at national level. The LSMS 2002 differs from the APS 2003 and 2004 in that the former is designed to be representative at regional level (Mountain, Central, Coastal and Tirana) as well as for urban and rural domains, while the latter are for last domains only (urban and rural)
LSMS 2002 sample design
The LSMS is based on a probability sample of housing units (HUs) within the 16 strata of the sampling frame. It is divided in three regions: Coastal, Central, and Mountain Area. In addition, urban areas of Tirana are also considered as a separate region/stratum. The three regions are further stratified in major cities (the most important cities in the region), other urban (other cities in the region), and rural. The city of Tirana and its suburbs have been implicitly stratified to improve the efficiency of the sample design. Each stratum has been divided in Enumeration Area (EA), in accordance with the 2001 Census data, and each Primary Sampling Unit (PSU) selected with probabilities proportional to the number of occupied HUs in the EA. Every EA includes occupied and unoccupied HUs. Occupied rather than total units have been used because of the large amount of empty dwellings registered in the Census data.
The Housing Unit, defined as the space occupied by one household, is taken as sampling unit because is more permanent and easy to identify compared to the household. 10 EAs for each major city (75 for Tirana) and 65 EAs for each rural region -with the exception of the mountain area which is over-represented (75 EAs)- are selected. 8 households, plus 4 eventual substitutes, have been systematically selected in each EAs. As the LSMS consists of 450 EAs, total sample size is 3,600 households.
The sample is not self-weighted, hence to obtain correct estimates data need to be weighted. The weights, at household level, are included in the dataset ("weights" file). When working at individual level, household weights must be multiplied by household size.
APS 2003-2004 sample design
The panel component selected from the LSMS is designed to provide a nationally representative sample of households and individuals within Albania. It consists of roughly half of the households in the 2002 LSMS, interviewed both in 2003 and 2004. Contrarily to what done for the LSMS, no over-sampling in the Mountain Area has been performed for the panel survey.
The sample is designed to minimize the variability in households' selection probabilities. It insures national representativeness by matching the sample distribution across strata with the population distribution drawn from 2001 Census data. In Table 3 the ex-ante sampling scheme of the 2003-2004 APS is shown.
Compared to the LSMS design, statistical precision has improved. Under equal stratum population variances hypothesis, sample design effects are expected to be around 1.02, compared to the 1.28 of the LSMS sample. Moreover, further precision is obtained by keeping all 450 EAs of LSMS in the panel sample, thus reducing the eventual bias due to clustering because of new design.
Finally, the panel survey has a number of peculiar features that should be considered when using the data. The sample is designed to focus on individuals, who have been also traced when moving from the original household to a new one. This possibility represents the only way a household can enter the panel sample if it has not been already interviewed in the wave 1 (or in wave 2 for the APS 2004). If an original survey member (OSM) moves to a new household, his/her old and new household -and their members- are both included in the panel sample. Though a moved OSM will be present in the roster of both sampled households, he/she is a valid member only in the new one. In the old household he/she is taken into account as "moved away", hence not a valid member. This might generate some confusion.
Three modalities exist to classify an individual in the third wave. First, when he/she is an OSM, that is a respondent interviewed both in wave 1 and 2. Second, when he is a rejoiner from 2002, that is an OSM not interviewed in 2003 (i.e. because temporarily absent) who returns in 2004. Third, when he/she is a new member, whenever he/she is a newborn of an original household, a member joined by an OSM or a person who co-resides with an original survey household. So the APS is an indefinite life panel study, without replacement by drawing new sample units.
From wave 2, only individuals aged 15 years and over are considered valid members, hence eligible for the interview. Individuals moved out of Albania are not accounted as valid for this survey year, though they are still eligible for future waves.
Dates of Data Collection (YYYY/MM/DD)
Mode of data collection
Type of Research Instrument
A single questionnaire on households has been used to collect information in the APS 2004. Contrary to the LSMS 2002 survey (see Basic Information Document, 2003), both in 2003 and 2004 the Diary for Household Consumption (the “booklet”), the Community questionnaire and the Price questionnaire were not repeated. The target is to collect a similar set of information (only data comparable across time is suitable for a longitudinal analysis) through a less lengthy and simpler questionnaire.
The household questionnaire has drawn heavily on the earlier APS 2003’s -a reduced version of the 2002’s-, but useful features have been added. Main changes are that data on credit have not been collected, the module on migration has been slightly reduced, while an additional section on remittances and a detailed module on social capital has been introduced. An additional module which collects data using pedometers on the distance (in kilometers) to the place of study and work of a sub-sample of interviewed households was introduced at an experimental level.
The choice of sections was aimed at matching as much as possible the specificity of Albania in terms of data needs, as driven by pressing policy questions. Their design (e.g. questions asked, their sequence, units and time-frame used) was adapted to fit the Albanian reality. Nevertheless, as consumption data are not available, the LSMS 2002 survey still represents the main household dataset for poverty analysis and evaluation.
Household membership is defined as being an actual resident or away from the household for less than six months (the exceptions being: the household head even though he might be away from the household for up to 11 months). Deceased individuals, lodgers, hired workers and servants are never considered household members. Individual in charge of answering the questionnaire is, usually, the most knowledgeable person about the specific matter. For the roster sheet for issued households, the one in charge of answering is the one designated by household members as the household head. If he/she is not available, a “principle respondent” is found. For the other questionnaire sections, identification codes of respondents indicate who provides information. In some modules where information is referred to individual, such as labor and health, each household member is asked to answer for him/herself. From wave 2, only individuals over 14 years old are eligible for interview.
As for the coding, ISCO (1988) and NACE codes are used for employment and industry activities, respectively.
A first data cleaning took place in Albania and implemented by INSTAT in collaboration with ISER and Government of Albania consultants. The cleaning process has involved following activities:
1. defining data checking routines and writing the syntax code of the cleaning programs;
2. generating lists of outliers and inconsistencies for each module to be checked against paper questionnaires;
During the first few days, data cleaning operators have been working on the Export Procedure of the Data Entry Program to check if data export succeeded and to finalize the English version of the dictionaries and error messages. Some changes were made to the Export Procedure due to a problem on the “Agriculturea2” file conversion and to the dictionary structure to check over correct labelling of exported data. The dictionary used during data entry was in Albanian language. So, an accurate comparison of the Albanian and English versions was done to ensure consistency (except for the labelling) between the two. This work was performed by using a freeware software called “Winmerge”, which underlines all the differences between two text files.
Phase two has been devoted to update the Batch Edit (BE) procedure of the Data Entry Program, where a little correction was required to avoid some error messages incorrectly issued by the BE. Afterwards, the routine was applied to check all the errors, and a program in Access was run to associate PSU and Data-entry operator code to each questionnaire selected by the BE. Once obtained the procedure report, a pool of four people from INSTAT started to check all the reported errors and make the necessary adjustments. A copy of all original data in CSPRO software was made. During this work, some atypical circumstances were reported: sometimes errors or warning detected possible data-entry or interviewer problems. For these cases, no correction was made and the occurrence was highlighted in the report. Most of the problems reported by the BE were referred to the “distance that seemed to be inconsistent with the walking time” and “number of hours worked per week” higher than 70. All these situations were checked and corrected if differences between recorded values and paper values were found. At the end of these operations 10 problems (4%) were corrected out of 278 reported errors or warnings. Other 8 strange cases (3%) were underlined on the report.
The following steps were followed to check for questionnaire consistency. An SPSS program was written to check individual information present in the roster (Module 1) and coherence in the dwelling section (Module 2). No questionnaire was found to violate consistency in Module 1 and only one violating one of the dwelling rules.
Afterwards, a check of each qualitative variable value was carried out, by tabulating frequencies by variable and verifying if values were in their expected range. Any problem of this phase was reported, except for some “99” (meaning “not remember”) values assigned to some date variables such as months or years.
Different criteria were used to check for outliers in quantitative variables. A variation of the classic interval around the mean was used for these cases. Since some very asymmetric distributions were found, a skewed interval around the median was adopted. This interval involved MAD (Median Absolute Deviation) and an asymmetric measure based on quartiles. For each module of the questionnaire a SPSS program was run to check the questionnaire consistency related to quantitative variables and to identify outliers. As in the case of Data-Entry checks, all these cases were verified and adjusted if a difference between recorded value and paper value was found. In suspected cases no change was introduced.
The third step was to check split-off households. The consistency dealt with verifying that all individuals not coded as present household members were considered as valid components only if they join a split-off household; otherwise they were considered “refused interview” or “impossible to be contacted”. Only two cases of individuals without split-off household were found and the related corrections made.
Besides the preliminary check implemented right after the survey completion, additional controls were performed at a later stage. No major data entry errors were found, while some inconsistencies were highlighted and fixed. Furthermore, original files were reshaped to obtain individual or household-level dataset, as some initial data files were organized in a different way (e.g. by plot in the case of agriculturea or by income source in the socialassistance). Value labels for occupation and activity, whose coding was provided by INSTAT, were assigned to code-variables. A number of variables were created to better detect and trace households, and to enhance comparability across waves -e.g. cfinloc, which allows selecting households at their final destination, see below-. A careful check of each variable value was fulfilled, by tabulating frequencies and verifying if all values and codes were consistent. After the discrepancies were fixed, the general dissemination files were created.
Finally, an analysis of the differences in the sections’ content between the two waves of APS was performed. This may be useful for analysts aiming at using the longitudinal panel of the three waves, if used in conjunction with the Variable_reconciliation LSMS_PANEL_final document of wave 2. Codebooks for the individual and household-level files were created and are part of the documentation.
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1. The data are supplied solely for the use described in this form and will not be made available to other organizations or individuals. Other organizations or individuals may request the data directly.
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3. The researcher will refer to the 2004 Albania Living Standards Measurement Survey as the source of the information in all publications, conference papers, and manuscripts. At the same time, the World Bank is not responsable for the estimations reported by the analyst(s).
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Institute of Statistics of Albania. Albania Living Standards Measurement Survey 2004. Ref. ALB_2004_LSMS_v01_M. Dataset downloaded from [website/source] on [date].
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