Estimating Socioeconomic Indicators From Mobile Phone Data in Vanuatu

Pulse Lab Jakarta

Project Description

Recent studies have shown that data from mobile phones, in particular from Call Details Records (CDR) and airtime credit purchases, can be used to understand socioeconomic conditions, especially in the absence of official statistics.

This research is investigating the potential of mobile phone data to produce a set of proxies for education and household characteristics such as expenditure and income diversity in Vanuatu, a Pacific island nation located in the South Pacific Ocean. The aim is to understand whether CDRs and airtime purchase records can provide a cost-effective option to measure population characteristics at provincial and island level.

The research is using mobile phone data from an operator in Vanuatu to extract proxies for four types of statistical indicators namely: education, household characteristics, household expenditure, and household income. To validate the accuracy, the results are being compared to data from official statistics provided by the National Statistics Office in Vanuatu.

Initial findings have revealed that education indicators at island level are the most correlated with indicators from mobile data. The correlations between nine mobile indicators (like data derived from CDRs) and these socioeconomic indicators range from 0.92 for education, 0.76 for household characteristics to 0.72 for household ownership.

This confirms the potential of using mobile phone data as a cost-effective option to measure socioeconomic indicators.

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