ESCAP Asia-Pacific Stats Café Series - Survey design: Are we asking what we think we're asking?

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Despite increased interest in alternative data sources, household surveys remain a vital component of national statistical systems and a key source for producing official statistics. In measuring the progress towards Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), household surveys are the primary source for one-third of indicators, cutting across 13 out of 17 SDGs. This underpins the importance of implementing strategies to improve the quality of data acquired through surveys. In addition to other design elements, questionnaires play a critical role in communicating statistical ideas to respondents and capturing high-quality data. Testing statistical concepts and questions used in labor force surveys is one way of ensuring data producers can operationalise statistical standards and produce reliable and accurate data. 

The ILO uses qualitative testing - cognitive interviews, focus groups, and rapid ethnographic assessments – to enhance the generic labor force survey questionnaire and in development of a light module to measure time use.