Over the past decade, Albania has been seeking to develop the framework for a market economy and more open society. It has faced severe internal and external challenges in the interim – extremely low income levels and a lack of basic infrastructure, the rapid collapse of output and inflation rise after the shift in regime in 1991, the turmoil during the 1997 pyramid crisis, and the social and economic shocks accompanying the 1999 Kosovo crisis. In the face of these challenges, Albania has made notable progress in creating conditions conducive to growth and poverty reduction.
In the process leading to its first Poverty Reduction Strategy (that is the National Strategy for Socioeconomic Development, now renamed the National Strategy for Development and Integration), the Government of Albania reinforced its commitment to strengthening its own capacity to collect and analyze on a regular basis the information it needs to inform policy-making.
Multi-purpose household surveys are one of the main sources of information to determine living conditions and measure the poverty situation of a country. They provide an indispensable tool to assist policy-makers in monitoring and targeting social programs. In its first phase (2001-2006), this monitoring system included the following data collection instruments: (i) Population and Housing Census; (ii) Living Standards Measurement Surveys every 3 years, and (iii) annual panel surveys.
The Population and Housing Census (PHC) conducted in April 2001, provided the country with a much needed updated sampling frame which is one of the building blocks for the household survey structure. 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 subsample of LSMS households (in 2003, and 2004), drawing heavily on the 2001 census information.
A poverty profile based on 2002 data showed that some 25 percent of the population are poor, with many others vulnerable to poverty due to their incomes being close to the poverty threshold. Income related poverty is compounded by poor access to basic infrastructure (regular supply of electricity, clean water), education and health services, housing, etc.
The 2005 LSMS was in the field between May and early July, with an additional visit to agricultural households in October, 2005. 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]
Domains: Tirana, other urban, rural; Agro-ecological areas (coastal, central, mountain)
Unit of analysis
Producers and sponsors
Institute of Statistics of Albania
The World Bank
The Republic of Albania is divided geographically into 12 Prefectures (Prefekturat). The latter are divided into Districts (Rrethet) which are, in turn, divided into Cities (Qyteti) and Communes (Komunat). The Communes contain all the rural villages and the very small cities. For census purposes, the cities and the villages have been divided into enumeration areas (EAs).
1. Sampling frame
The Enumeration Areas (EA) that make up the sampling frame come from the April 2001 General Census of Population and Housing. The EAs in the frame are classified by Prefecture, District, City or Commune. The frame also contains, for every EA, the number of Housing Units (HU), the number of occupied HUs, the number of unoccupied HUs, the number of households, and the population. We are using occupied dwellings and not total number of dwellings since many EAs contain a large number of empty dwellings.
A detailed study of the list of census EAs shows that many have zero population. In order to obtain EAs with the minimum of 50 and the maximum of 120 occupied housing units, the EAs with zero population have been taken off the sampling frame. Since the sizes of the EAs varied from 0 to 395 HUs, the smaller EAs (with less than 50 HU) have been collapsed with geographically adjacent ones and the largest EAs (with more than 120 HU) have been split into two or more EAs. Subsequently, maps identifying the boundaries of every split and collapsed EA were prepared. Given that the 2002 LSMS has been conducted less than a year after the April 2001 census, a listing operation to update the sample EAs was not conducted in the field. However, since the level of construction is very high in the city of Tirana and its suburbs, a quick count of the 75 sample EAs selected in Tirana was carried out followed by a listing operation. The check of the listing based on the Census data revealed two types of discrepancies:
- HUs had become invalid, i.e. vacant, nonresidential, demolished, seasonally occupied, etc.
- Instead of one small building (with one or two HU), a new one with 15 HUs was identified.
During of the listing update process, HUs identified as invalid were taken off the frame. In the case of a new building, these new HUs were entered with a new sequential code. The listing sheets prepared during the listing operation in Tirana, become the sampling frame for the final stage of selection of 12 HU which has to be interviewed. The unit of analysis and the unit of observation is the household. The universe under study consists of all the households in the Republic of Albania. We have used the Housing Unit (defined as the space occupied by one household) as the sampling unit, instead of the household, because the HU is more permanent and easier to identify in the field.
2. Sample Size
In the LSMS the sample size is 450 EA and in each EA 8 households were selected. So the total sample size of the LSMS is 3600 households. In addition, since a certain level of nonresponse is expected, 4 reserve units were selected in each sample EA.
The sampling frame has been divided in three regions (strata)
1. Coastal Area
2. Central Area
3. Mountain Area
and Tirana (urban and other urban) is consider as a separate strata.
The first three strata were divided into major cities (the most important cities in the region), other urban (the rest of cities in the region), and rural. In each more importance was given to the major cities and rural areas. We have selected 10 EA for each major city and 65 EAs (75 EAs for Mountain Area) for each region. In the city of Tirana and its suburbs, implicit stratification was used to improve the efficiency of the sample design.
4. Procedure for the Selection of Housing Units
A fixed number of valid dwelling units (12) was selected systematically and with equal probability from the Listing Form pertaining to Tirana and from the Census forms for the other areas. Once the 12 HUs were selected, 4 of them were chosen at random and kept as reserve units. The selected HUs were numbered within the EA and identified with a circle around the number in the listing form, as well as a circle on the maps. The reserve sample (units 9 to 12) were identified from R1 to R4 during data collection to emphasize the fact that they were reserve units.
Two copies of the sample listing sheets and two copies of maps for each EA were printed. The first copy of the listing sheet and the map were given to the supervisor and included the 12 HU, the second copy was given to the enumerator. The enumerator only received the 8 dwelling units, not the reserve ones. Each time the enumerator needed a reserve HU, he/she had to ask the supervisor and explain the reason why a reserve unit was needed. This process helped determine the reason why reserve units were used and provided more control on their use.
In the field the enumerator registered the occupancy status of every unit:
- occupied as principal residence
- under construction (not occupied)
- demolished or abandoned (not occupied)
- seasonally occupied
In the case that one HU was found to be invalid, the enumerator used the first reserve unit (identified with the code R1). In the case that in one EA more than 4 DU selected were invalid, other units from that EA chosen at random by headquarter (in Tirana) were selected as replacement units to keep the enumerator load constant and maintain a uniform sample size in each EA. Before identifying the invalid HUs, the interviewer had to note the interview status of each visit for all the units for which an interview was attempted, whether these are original units or reserve units. This was done to determine the interview status: interview completed, nonresponse, refusal, etc. In other words, this will allow identifying: the completed interviews (responses obtained), the incomplete but usable ones (responses obtained), the incomplete ones but not usable (nonresponse), the refusals (nonresponse) and the "not at home" (nonresponse). Subsequently, the invalid units identified were substituted with the available reserves, always maintaining the sample of 8 HUs.
Dates of collection
Mode of data collection
Data collection supervision
The monitoring of the entire fieldwork process was ensured by the core team in Tirana, maintaining constant contact with the supervisors by telephone, tracking the progress and keeping apprised of any problems, and traveling to the field as necessary. Household replacements, were also constantly monitored as the fieldwork continued, to make sure that replacements be kept at a minimum. In Tirana, where the refusal rate was higher than elsewhere, one of the field supervisors revisited with the supervisor many of the households who had refused.
Four survey instruments were used to collect information for the 2005 Albania LSMS: a household questionnaire, a diary for recording household food consumption, a community questionnaire, and a price questionnaire.
The household questionnaire included all the core LSMS modules as defined in Grosh and Glewwe (2000)1, plus additional modules on migration, fertility, subjective poverty, agriculture, non-farm enterprises, and social capital. Geographical referencing data on the longitude and latitude of each household were also recorded using portable GPS devices. Geo-referencing will enable a more efficient spatial link among the different surveys of the system, as well as between the survey households and other geo-referenced information.
The choice of the modules 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-frames used) was also adapted to fit the Albanian reality.
Household membership in this survey is defined as being away from the household for less than six months. Deceased individuals, lodgers, hired workers and servants are never considered household members. Guests who stay with the household for six months and over, infants of less than six months, new arrivals (such as newly weds) are considered household members. The head of the household is always considered a member of the household irrespective of the time s/he spent away from it.
The questionnaire was divided in two sections, and was administered to households in two visits, one section per visit. During the second visit the interviewer would also collect additional information of use for the eventual tracking of the household in the next waves of the panel.
The Diary for Recording Daily Household Consumption (also known as the booklet) was left with the household by the interviewer during the first visit for the household to compile, and collected during the second visit. Upon collection, interviewers took care of checking the entries (also with the help of a checklist provided at the end of the booklet) and correct them as appropriate with the help of the most knowledgeable person in the household.
The diary consists of:
A. A cover page (for metadata information);
B. Instructions for the household on how to record consumption;
C. Fourteen (i.e. one per day) three-part sections for the recording of (1) food products purchased daily; (2) non-purchased food products consumed by the household (e.g. from own production or payments in kind); (3) food eaten outside the home (e.g. at work, in restaurants);
D. A checklist for use by the interviewer with a list of the 14 main food products consumed in Albania.
E. Bread Questionnaire
A specific column was provided for the household to record the ‘reference period’ for any purchases of food. The checklist was compiled by the interviewer, with the help of the most knowledgeable person in the household, upon collection of the diary. Interviewers were instructed to check, for 14 main food staples, whether any consumption of the item had been recorded in the diary. Whenever an item had not been recorded the interviewer would ask the respondent to report whether the item (a) had not been used in the 14 day period, or (b) had been consumed but the household had forgotten to record its consumption, or else (c) had been consumed by the household drawing on stocks purchased or produced outside the 14 day period. If the inclusion of an item had simply been forgotten the interviewer would then fill the appropriate section of the diary by asking the household to recall the details of that consumption. If the household reported consuming an item purchased before the beginning of the 14 day period, then information on the frequency of purchase, quantity, unit of measure and value of the purchase were recorded in the columns provided to this end in the checklist.
Data users should therefore make sure of using the checklist, as well as column 7 in the table on daily purchases, to supplement the food consumption information included in the main part of the food diary. The rest of the questionnaire was filled in two stages. One half of the questionnaire was filled at the initial visit to the household and the other half at the second visit. In order to allow for completion of the cropping season, and the identification of agricultural households, the agricultural module was sent out in the Fall 2005 (to be precise October), only to the households that claimed to have any plots of land or livestock.
The Community Questionnaire Information was collected in the Fall of 2005 for Tirana, Urban (other than Tirana), and Rural areas with a few slightly different questions for each. When using data from these questions the analyst should make sure of integrating information that appears in different variables in the dataset. In a few cases in which a question did not make sense in an urban context the question was only asked in rural communities.
In rural areas the community was normally defined as a village and the inhabited area surrounding it. In urban areas the definition was less straightforward, and it was decided on a case by case basis by the core team and the supervisors with the objective of selecting areas that would be understood as communities by the respondents, from time to time adopting boundaries matching those of administrative partitions of the urban areas, the neighborhood or sector. In Tirana the community was identified with the minibashkia level of the administrative partition of the city.
The supervisors were instructed to administer the questionnaire to a group of persons reputed to be best informed about each module within a community (e.g. teachers for the education questions, doctors or hospital managers for health related ones). Whenever possible, the questionnaire was administered in groups and the prevailing response (in case of differing views) was recorded. When this was not possible, respondents were interviewed separately. In a majority of cases, however, the questionnaire was in practice administered to only one respondent, generally an elected or appointed community leader.
The fourth survey instrument used was the price questionnaire. The price questionnaire was sent out at the same time as the core questionnaire, that is, during May-July 2005, in order to obtain the prices faced by households at the same time that the field work was going on.
Data for 96 different items were collected in each community. Prices were generally collected in only one outlet, except for urban communities for which two or three price observations are available. Thirteen of the latter are urban areas in which the monthly price data collection regularly is done by INSTAT for the consumer price index was used.
Besides the checks built-in in the DE program and those performed on the preliminary versions of the dataset as it was building up, and additional round of in depth checks on the household questionnaire and the food diary was performed in November in Tirana. Wherever possible data entry errors or inconsistencies in the dataset were spotted, the original questionnaires or diary were retrieved and the information contained therein checked.
The coding for the survey made use of ISCO 88 and NACE codes for occupations and industry activities respectively, and of COICOP codes for the food item recorded in the 14 day diary.
Data Entry Operations
Data entry for all the survey instruments was performed using custom made applications developed in CS-Pro. Data entry for the household questionnaire was performed in a decentralized fashion in parallel with the enumeration, so as to allow for ‘real-time’ checking of the data collected. This allowed a further tier of quality control checks on the data. Where errors in the data were spotted during data entry, it was possible to instruct enumerators and supervisors to correct the information, if necessary revisiting the household, when the teams were still in the field. A further round of checks was performed by the core team in Tirana and the Bank staff, in Washington, DC as the data were gathered from the field and the entire dataset started building up.
All but two of the 16 teams in the districts had one DEO, the Fier and Kukes team had two, and there were five DEOs for Tirana. Each DEO in the districts worked with a laptop computer, and was given office space in the regional Statistics Offices, or in INSTAT headquarters for the Tirana teams.
The DEOs received Part 1 of the household questionnaire from the supervisor once the supervisor had checked the enumerator’s work, within a few days of the enumeration in the field. The DEO then entered the questionnaire on the custom program, noting from the error messages of the program where there were errors or omissions. These errors were then to be detailed on the appropriate page of the questionnaire so that the enumerator could correct them when they returned for the second visit to the household.
Once the DE of 8 questionnaires for a PSU was completed for Part 1, the questionnaires were returned to the supervisor who gave them to the enumerator for administering Part 2 in the field. After Part 2 was completed, and the errors or omissions noted from Part 1, the enumerator turned the questionnaires back to the supervisor, who in turn gave them to the DE operator for entering Part 2. If there were errors found in Part 2, the supervisor was then told and they either solved the problem, or sent the enumerator back to the household.
The data entry of the household questionnaires was completed by July 2005 and the data was all delivered to Tirana by the teams. The data entry of the food booklets was done on a separate data-entry program by DEOs in Tirana. The data entry was completed on 15 August. The questionnaires were all brought to Tirana and stored in INSTAT headquarters.
The data entry for the price questionnaires took place in July 2005. The data entry for the community and agriculture questionnaires took place in November.
In receiving these data it is recognized that the data are supplied for use within your organization, and you agree to the following stipulations as conditions for the use of the data:
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.
2. Three copies of all publications, conference papers, or other research reports based entirely or in part upon the requested data will be supplied to:
Living Condition Sector, INSTAT, Rr. Lek Dukagjini, 5 Tirana, Albania
tel: 355 4 222 411
fax: 355 4 228 300
The World Bank, Development Economics Research Group, LSMS Database Administrator
1818 H Street, NW Washington, DC 20433, USA
tel: (202) 473-9041
fax: (202) 522-1153
3. The researcher will refer to the 2005 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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- the title of the survey (including country, acronym and year of implementation)
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Institute of Statistics of Albania. Albania Living Standards Measurement Survey 2005. Ref. ALB_2005_LSMS_v01_M. Dataset downloaded from [website/source] on [date].
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