Measuring Farm Labor: Survey Experimental Evidence from Ghana

Isis Gaddis*, Gbemisola Oseni, Amparo Palacios-Lopez, J. Pieters

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


This study examines recall bias in farm labor through a randomized survey experiment in Ghana, comparing farm labor estimates from an end-of-season recall survey with data collected weekly throughout the agricultural season. Recall households report 10 percent more farm labor per person-plot, which can be explained by recall households’ underreporting of “marginal” plots and household workers. This “selective” omission by recall households, denoted as listing bias, alters the composition of plots and workers across treatment arms and inflates average farm labor hours per person-plot in the recall group. Since listing bias, in this setting, dominates other forms of recall bias at higher levels of aggregation (i.e., when farm labor per person-plot is summed at the plot, person, or household level), farm labor productivity is overestimated for recall households. Consistent with the notion that recall bias is linked to the cognitive burden of reporting on past events, there is no recall bias among more educated households.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-31
JournalThe World Bank Economic Review
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 21 May 2020


  • recall bias
  • measurement error
  • farm labor
  • agricultural productivity
  • gender
  • Ghana

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