EquityTool: Update released October 13, 2022
Previous version: released October 24, 2017
Source data: Viet Nam MICS 2021
# of survey questions in MICS wealth index: 39
# of variables in MICS index: 161
# of survey questions in EquityTool: 16
# of variables in EquityTool: 16
|Question||Option 1||Option 2||Option 3|
|DETERMINE IF THE RESPONDENT LIVES IN AN URBAN OR RURAL AREA||Urban||Rural|
|Q1||Does any member of your household own a bank account?||Yes||No|
|Q2||…a computer or tablet?||Yes||No|
|Q3||Does your household have an air conditioner?||Yes||No|
|Q6||…a washing machine?||Yes||No|
|Q7||…an electric/induction stove?||Yes||No|
|Q8||Does your household have internet at home?||Yes||No|
|Q9||Does your household own any milk cows?||Yes||No|
|Q10||In your household, what type of cookstove is mainly used for cooking?||Liquified petroleum gas (LPG) cooking gas stove||Other type of cookstove|
|Q11||What type of fuel or energy is used in this cookstove?||Wood||Other type of fuel|
|Q12||What is the main source of drinking water used by members or your household?||Water piped into dwelling||Other source|
|Q13||What is the main material used in your dwelling’s roof?||Cement||Other material|
|Q14||What is the main material used in your dwelling’s exterior walls?||Bricks||Other material|
|Q15||What kind of toilet facility do members of your household usually use?||Flush to septic tank||Other facility|
|Q16||Where is the toilet facility located?||In own dwelling||Elsewhere|
Recreating the full index
To create the EquityTool, we simplify the original full wealth index found in the relevant benchmark dataset, usually using published factor weights. In the case of MICS data, the factor weights are not publicly available. In order to apply a consistent set of wealth index creation principles across both DHS and MICS datasets, we recreated the Viet Nam MICS wealth index using a similar approach as used for DHS wealth indices. More information about how the DHS Wealth Index is constructed can be found in this article. Factor weights used in the construction of the Viet Nam MICS 2021 EquityTool are available upon request
We were unable to achieve sufficient agreement at the national and urban levels between the recalculated MICS wealth index and a simplified index using our standard simplification process (detailed in this article). Using a revised approach, detailed below, we achieved high agreement (kappa ≥ 0.75) for the national and urban indices.
The national factor weights used in the standard approach come from an analysis of the national population and contain only those variables that are related to the construct of wealth in the same way in both rural and urban areas. The national factor weights are usually used in EquityTools to calculate national quintiles, as they reduce some known areas of respondent error in the survey.
However, to overcome the problem of low agreement using the standard simplification approach, we instead used factor weights from the rural and urban analyses, which select variables that related to wealth differently in urban and rural areas. For example, in an urban area, ownership of goats may be more strongly associated with being poor than in rural areas. This is the case in Viet Nam. A concise list of variables, common to both urban and rural areas, were iteratively selected to find those which result in high agreement (kappa ≥ 0.75) against the recreated MICS wealth index quintiles for national, urban, and rural populations.
A score from the simplified index for urban residents (Uscore) was regressed against the wealth index score variable created for the corrected full wealth index analysis (Nscore), the same was done for rural residents (Rscore), and the resulting coefficients are used to create a single national score (NatScore).
Nscore=b1Uscore + a1
Nscore=b2Rscore + a2
Where Urban=1 if respondent lives in an urban area and 0 if otherwise, and Rural =1 if respondent lives in a rural area and 0 if otherwise.
Respondents’ quintile assignments resulting from NatScore, the national wealth index score created from a simplified list of questions were compared to the quintile assignments resulting from the recreated wealth index with 161 variables using the kappa statistic.
The questions in the simplified index which resulted from this process differ from EquityTools that are created using our standard approach. Notably, we need to know whether the respondent lives in an urban or rural area, thus an additional question has been added to the EquityTool for Viet Nam: ‘Determine if the respondent lives in an urban or rural area’. In principle, the definition of ‘urban’ and ‘rural’ should match the definition used in the Viet Nam MICS 2021 survey. Typically, this definition is defined by the country, not the developers of the MICS. In practice, the user needs to decide how to determine if each respondent lives in an urban or rural area. Three approaches are presented below, with some notes on each. Whichever method is chosen, it should be uniformly applied across all surveys conducted.
Level of agreement:
Urban only population
Respondents in the original dataset were divided into three groups for analysis – those in the 1st and 2ndquintiles (poorest 40%), those in the 3rd quintile, and those in the 4th and 5th quintiles (richest 40%). After calculating their wealth using the simplified index, they were again divided into the same three groups for analysis against the original data in the full MICS. We present the level of agreement between the original data and our simplified index above.
What does this mean?
When shortening and simplifying the index to make it easier for programs to use to assess equity, it no longer matches the original index with 100% accuracy. At an aggregate level, this error is minimal, and an expert panel deemed this methodology acceptable for programmatic use. However, for any given individual, especially those already at a boundary between two quintiles, the quintile the EquityTool assigns them to may differ as compared to how they may have been classified in the recreated MICS wealth index.
The graph below illustrates the difference between the EquityTool generated index and the full recreated MICS wealth index. Among all of those people (20% of the population) originally identified as being in the poorest quintile, 85% are still identified as being in the poorest quintile when we use the simplified index. However, approximately 14% of people are now classified as being in Quintile 2. From a practical standpoint, all of these people are relatively poor. Yet, it is worthwhile to understand that the simplified index of 16 questions produces results that are not identical to using all 39 questions and 161 variables in the full MICS wealth index.
The following table provides the same information on the movement between national quintiles when using the EquityTool versus the recreated MICS wealth index:
|EquityTool National Quintiles|
|Quintile 1||Quintile 2||Quintile 3||Quintile 4||Quintile 5||Total|
|Recreated MICS National Quintiles||Quintile 1||17.0%||2.8%||0.2%||0.0%||0.0%||20%|
The following graph provides information on the movement between urban quintiles when using the EquityTool versus the recreated MICS wealth index:
The following table provides the same information on the movement between urban quintiles when using the EquityTool versus the recreated MICS wealth index:
|EquityTool Urban Quintiles|
|Quintile 1||Quintile 2||Quintile 3||Quintile 4||Quintile 5||Total|
|Recreated MICS Urban Quintiles||Quintile 1||17.2%||2.6%||0.2%||0.0%||0.0%||20%|
Data interpretation considerations:
Changes from the previous EquityTool
We released an EquityTool on October 24, 2017, which compared user data to a benchmark of 2014. A new source survey, the Viet Nam MICS 2020-21 was recently released, and allows us to benchmark results to a more recent population. This is important, because wealth generally increases over time, and comparing your respondents to an old benchmark population will lead to over-estimating the relatively wealthy in your survey. The new EquityTool was generated using the exact same methodology as the previous version, and in generating the new EquityTool, no attempt was made to account for the fact that a previous version existed. In other words, we did not explicitly try to keep the same questions or response options as the previous tool.
For those who have not previously conducted an EquityTool based study in Viet Nam, the remainder of this section is not particularly relevant. For those who have used the previous EquityTool, you may be interested to know how the two versions compare.
|Source Data||MICS 2013-14||MICS 2020-21|
|# of questions in EquityTool||10||16|
|# of questions in full wealth index||33||39|
|Kappa statistic (EquityTool vs full wealth Index) for 3 groups|
Practical considerations for users of the previous EquityTool
Comparing the results of surveys that used the previous EquityTool against those that use the current EquityTool is difficult. It will not always be clear whether any difference is because of actual differences in the wealth level of the respondents or because the EquityTool has changed.
The technical comparison section below, particularly the 3rd comparison, illustrates how quintile results compare when using the previous EquityTool and the current one. Generally, there is a partial shift down in quintiles when using a more recent EquityTool. In other words, the current EquityTool will usually put some respondents into a lower quintile than the previous one would.
It is generally best to use the current version of EquityTool, since it will give a more accurate quintile estimates. If you are currently collecting data, it is best to continue to use the previous tool. Note that if you have created a survey in the EquityTool web application using the previous EquityTool, that survey will continue to use the previous EquityTool.
If conducting a follow-up survey to a baseline that used the previous EquityTool, and the most important result is change from the baseline, it may be preferable to continue to use the previous EquityTool for comparability. If you need to do this, please contact us at email@example.com.
Technical comparison between the current and previous EquityTool
All but one of the questions and response options from the previous EquityTool are found in the new source data. This makes the comparison between the two versions of EquityTool, and two different data sources, possible.
The comparison will be assessed in 3 different ways, described below.
This analysis simulates results if the only thing which changes is the benchmark against which respondents are compared. In the seven years between the two source data studies, more people have acquired assets that are indicative of wealth. In the graph below, the previous EquityTool, derived from MICS 2013-14 data, is applied to the 2014 data and the newer MICS 2020-21 survey data. The chart below demonstrates that in 2014, a disproportionately large share of households are assigned to the first and fifth quintile, while fewer households are assigned to the second through fourth quintiles. This slight variation from the original wealth index distribution in which exactly 20% of households are assigned to each of the five quintiles is unsurprising and a product of the EquityTool simplification process. However, by 2021, the distribution across the five quintiles is more equal. This indicates that the old Viet Nam EquityTool is classifying more household into the wealthier quintiles in 2021 than it did in 2014.
We would expect this trend to continue as the population becomes wealthier. Over time, ever greater proportions of your surveyed households will be classified as belonging to wealthier quintiles.
As an alternative, one might wish to use the same questions as the previous tool but update the weighting. This seems reasonable, as the relative contribution of each asset towards overall wealth may have changed over time. Using new weights, but the same variables as the previous tool, we can see how well the resulting quintiles compare to the quintiles based on the full wealth index created by UNICEF.
The table below presents the agreement between the quintiles created from the full wealth index in the 2021 dataset and the quintiles created by the previous EquityTool, the previous EquityTool variables with updated weighting, and the current EquityTool. As with the agreement statistics above, these figures are for the bottom two quintiles, the middle quintile, and top two quintiles.
|2014 EquityTool||2014 questions, 2021 scoring||2021 EquityTool|
The current EquityTool has the best agreement with the full wealth index quintiles and is the only one that exceeds our minimum kappa statistic of 0.75. It is important to note that one question used in the previous EquityTool did not appear in the 2021 Viet Nam MICS survey. This means that when running the analysis of 2014 questions with 2021 scoring, we were unable to include this one question. The previous tool, even when the scoring is updated, falls short of this standard. The reason for this difference is because these 10 questions are no longer the best predictors of the overall wealth distribution.
Although all of the questions in the previous EquityTool are found in the current EquityTool, we found that 10 questions were not enough to accurately predict wealth. Because more people may own the assets predictive of wealth in 2014, we need to add questions to differentiate people and households more accurately.
The table below shows how the previous and current EquityTool compare, using the same population. This is analogous to a comparison of the two versions of the EquityTool on the population you surveyed using our previous EquityTool.
|Previous EquityTool Quintiles|
|Quintile 1||Quintile 2||Quintile 3||Quintile 4||Quintile 5||Total|
|Current EquityTool Quintiles||Quintile 1||17.4%||2.5%||0.1%||0.0%||0.0%||20%|
The rightmost column indicates that the current EquityTool does in fact evenly divide the population into 5 groups. The cells within the table indicate how respondents are categorized, if measured using the two different tools. Of those who are categorized as quintile 1 using the current tool, 17.4% of them would have been considered to be in the poorest quintile in the previous tool (see the first row). Similarly, for those currently categorized as in the third quintile, 4.1%% would have previously been categorized as being in the fourth quintile. If you had used the previous EquityTool, you could expect that with the current version, your respondents will look slightly poorer. This is not incorrect, but rather reflects the reality that we are measuring them against a more accurate benchmark.
Metrics for Management provides technical assistance services to those using the EquityTool or wanting to collect data on the wealth of their program beneficiaries. Please contact firstname.lastname@example.org and we will assist you.
 From povertydata.worldbank.org, reporting poverty headcount ratio at $5.50/day at 2011 international prices
2 From the Viet Nam MICS6 2021 dataset household recode, available at https://mics.unicef.org/