Govt scraps NSO’s consumer expenditure survey over ‘data quality’

Govt scraps NSO’s consumer expenditure survey over ‘data quality’

The findings of the report, published by Business Standard on Thursday, showed consumer spending falling for the first time in over four decades in 2

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The findings of the report, published by Business Standard on Thursday, showed consumer spending falling for the first time in over four decades in 2017-18

Somesh Jha  |  New Delhi 

The government has decided to scrap the National Statistical Office’s (NSO’s) survey conducted in 2017-18 due to “data quality” issues.

“In view of data quality issues, the Ministry (of Statistics and Programme Implementation) has decided not to release the survey results of 2017-2018. The ministry is separately examining the feasibility of conducting the next survey in 2020-2021 and 2021-22 after incorporating all data quality refinements in the survey process,” an official statement released on Friday said.

The previous round of survey on consumer expenditure took place in 2011-12. The government uses the dataset to estimate poverty and inequality in the country. So the latest move could mean India will not have an estimate on poverty for a period of 10 years.

The findings of the report, published by Business Standard on Thursday, showed falling for the first time in over four decades in 2017-18. The government in its statement has termed it as a ‘draft’ report.

“We would like to emphatically state that there is a rigorous procedure for vetting of data and reports which are produced through surveys. All such submissions which come to the ministry are draft in nature and cannot be deemed to be the final report,” the ministry’s statement said.

The survey — Key Indicators: Household Consumer Expenditure in India — showed that the average amount of money spent by a person in a month fell by 3.7 per cent to Rs 1,446 in 2017-18 from Rs 1,501 in 2011-12. The figures for monthly per capita consumption expenditure (MPCE) are in real terms, meaning these have been adjusted for inflation keeping 2009-10 as the base year. In 2011-12, real MPCE had risen 13 per cent over a period of two years.

The government said it found certain deficiencies in the survey report, which was later referred to a committee.

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“The results of the survey were examined and it was noted that there was a significant increase in the divergence in not only the levels in the consumption pattern but also the direction of the change when compared to the other administrative data sources like the actual production of goods and services,” the ministry said.

It added that concerns were also raised about the ability of the survey instrument to capture consumption of social services by households, especially on health and education.

The ministry said a committee examined the survey report and noted these “discrepancies” and came out with recommendations, including a refinement in the survey methodology and improving the data quality on a “concurrent basis.”


“The recommendations of the committee are being examined for implementation in future surveys,” the official statement said.

The surveys on consumer expenditure happen in a gap of five years normally. But in 2011-12, the survey was conducted in two years as 2009-10, when the previous round of survey took place, was a drought year.

First Published: Fri, November 15 2019. 22:06 IST

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