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Household Assets

IHDS asked a series of questions about what goods the household owned and about the quality of the housing. Similar housing and consumer goods questions are now widely used in developing country surveys as an easily administered scale measuring household economic level. The summary score (hhassets) represents one of three principal variables measuring a household's economic status. The others are consumption and income. The three economic measures differ primarily in their volatility over time: the household assets measure is the least volatile and measures the economic status of the household over the last several years while the income measure generally would show the most year-to-year fluctuations in economic position. Because of the temporal stability of the assets measure, it is often the best correlate of other household behaviors and outcomes. It is also the simplest measure of the three. The hhassets scale sums 30 dichotomous items measuring household possessions and housing quality. It has a range from zero to 30, with a unweighted mean of 12.25 and unweighted standard deviation of 6.25. See the distributions and India map. A simple sum was chosen as the most appropriate measure for comparing to other similar scales and for eventual comparisons over time of the IHDS scale. Other surveys use more complex principal components scales or weighted sums. The user is free to construct such scales from these items.

Variable Description Q Page Section Q# Mean
cg2b Any vehicle HH 22 13 2 64%
cg3 Sewing machine HH 22 13 3 20%
cg5 Mixer/grinder HH 22 13 5 22%
cg6b Motor vehicle HH 22 13 2 17%
cg7b Any TV HH 22 13 2 48%
cg8 Colour TV HH 22 13 8 24%
cg9b Air cooler/cond HH 22 13 2 10%
cg10 Clock/watch HH 22 13 10 84%
cg11 Electric fan HH 22 13 11 59%
cg12 Chair/table HH 22 13 12 65%
cg13 Cot HH 22 13 13 85%
cg14 Telephone HH 22 13 14 14%
cg15 Cell phone HH 22 13 15 7%
cg16 Refrigerator HH 22 13 16 13%
cg17 Pressure cooker HH 22 13 17 38%
cg18 Car HH 22 13 18 2%
cg19 Air conditioner HH 22 13 19 0%
cg20 Washing machine HH 22 13 20 3%
cg21 Computer HH 22 13 21 1%
cg22 Credit card HH 22 13 22 1%
cg23 2 clothes HH 22 13 23 97%
cg24 Footwear HH 22 13 24 93%
wa1d Piped indoor water EH 9 5 1 25%
sa2d Separate kitchen EH 10 6 2 55%
sa4d Flush toilet EH 10 6 4 23%
fu1 Electricity EH 10 7 1 72%
fu9d LPG EH 11 7 9 33%
hq4d Pucca wall EH 37 23 4 59%
hq5d Pucca roof EH 37 23 5 48%
hq6d Pucca floor EH 37 23 6 52%

The hhassets scale has a Cronbach's reliability coefficient alpha of 0.914 (unweighted). Three items that had been candidates for the scale were dropped because they substantially lowered the reliability coefficient suggesting that they did not measure the same dimension as the remaining 30 items; cg5 owns a generator; hq2a any excrement observed around the house; and hq2b any standing water around the house. Four consumer goods items were modified because they were less expensive alternatives for other items in the scale: cg9 air coolers (vs. cg19 air conditioners); cg7 a black and white television (vs. cg8 a colour television); cg6 a motor scooter (vs. cg18 an automobile); and a cg2 bicycle (vs. a cg6 scooter or cg18 automobile). In these cases, if the household owned the more expensive alternative (e.g., an air conditioner), then the less expensive item (e.g., air cooler) was recoded as owned, regardless of whether the household reported owning the less desirable item. Without this modification, the less expensive items did not scale well; a household might not own them either because they were too affluent (and owned the more expensive alternative) or because they were too poor (and owned neither alternative).

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