Privacy protection, measurement error, and the integration of remote sensing and socioeconomic survey data

Jeffrey D. Michler, Anna Josephson, Talip Kilic, Siobhan Murray

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


When publishing socioeconomic survey data, survey programs implement a variety of statistical methods designed to preserve privacy but which come at the cost of distorting the data. We explore the extent to which spatial anonymization methods to preserve privacy in the large-scale surveys supported by the World Bank Living Standards Measurement Study-Integrated Surveys on Agriculture (LSMS-ISA) introduce measurement error in econometric estimates when that survey data is integrated with remote sensing weather data. Guided by a pre-analysis plan, we produce 90 linked weather-household datasets that vary by the spatial anonymization method and the remote sensing weather product. By varying the data along with the econometric model we quantify the magnitude and significance of measurement error coming from the loss of accuracy that results from privacy protection measures. We find that spatial anonymization techniques currently in general use have, on average, limited to no impact on estimates of the relationship between weather and agricultural productivity. However, the degree to which spatial anonymization introduces mismeasurement is a function of which remote sensing weather product is used in the analysis. We conclude that care must be taken in choosing a remote sensing weather product when looking to integrate it with publicly available survey data.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number102927
JournalJournal of Development Economics
StatePublished - Sep 2022


  • Measurement error
  • Privacy protection
  • Remote sensing data
  • Spatial anonymization
  • Sub-Saharan Africa

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Development
  • Economics and Econometrics


Dive into the research topics of 'Privacy protection, measurement error, and the integration of remote sensing and socioeconomic survey data'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this