Original national legislation was our preferred primary source of data; full-text copies of relevant legislation, in addition to information on amendments and repeals, were located mainly through the ILO’s NATLEX and TRAVAIL databases. When full-text legislation was not available through NATLEX or TRAVAIL, researchers located laws through national government websites, the World Bank’s Women, Business and the Law website, the legislation library Lexadin, and the World Legal Information Institute. In some cases, hard copies of legislation were obtained from the McGill University library.

If primary sources were not available, secondary sources, listed below, were used instead, after a review of their reliability and of the consistency and comparability of their methodology across countries. These secondary sources were also consulted to clarify or complement information available through primary sources.

Adult Labour Policy Databases:

  • ILO’s Maternity and Work (Conditions of Work Digest, vol.13/1994)

  • ILO’s 2014 Maternity and Paternity at Work

  • ILO’s Maternity and Working Time Databases (TRAVAIL)

  • International Network on Leave Policies and Research, Cross-Country Comparisons and country reports

  • Social Security Programs throughout the World (SSPTW)

  • The Council of Europe’s Mutual Information System on Social Protection (MISSCEO)

  • The European Commission’s Mutual Information System on Social Protection (MISSOC)

  • OECD Family Database

  • ILO’s Global Wage Database

  • US Department of State’s Country Reports on Human Rights Practices

Child Labour and Marriage Databases:

  • Reports submitted by signatory countries to the monitoring committees of the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) and the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW), as well as additional reports detailing the committees’ concluding observations.


Coding is the process by which an individual researcher takes a piece of information from legislation, policy, or any other source and translates it into a set of characteristics that can be quantitatively analyzed. For each country, two researchers from our multilingual team coded data sources independently according to pre-defined coding rules and compared their results to ensure accuracy. Whenever coding required a judgment call by the coder, the rules underlying such decisions were discussed, systematically described in a coding manual and applied consistently across countries. Coding was conducted in the original language of the document by team members fluent in the language; when this was not possible, we used a version translated into one of the official UN languages.

building of longitudinal databases

To code our databases, we first started with cross-sectional 2016 policy databases developed by the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) WORLD Policy Analysis Center (WORLD). Second, we reviewed the date of the sources used; when a national law used in the 2016 databases had been enacted before 1995 and had not been amended or repealed since, it was assumed that its provisions remained applicable from 1995 through 2016. The same text was therefore used to code all variables for that particular country between 1995 and 2016.

When a national law used to code the 2016 databases was enacted sometime between 1995 and 2016, the same text was used to code variables in the years after the law was enacted, and researchers then searched for the legislation that was in force in the preceding years. All variables between 1995 and that later law were coded using the original full-text prior legislation. The most current and in-force laws were always located first, and changes in legislation were thereafter traced back to 1995.

Dates and methodology slightly vary by database. More information is available on database decsriptions pages and in the data dictionaries.



Our databases focus on national policies and therefore do not capture subnational differences or policies based on collective agreements available to subgroups of employees. In addition, our databases record the existence of policies and not their level of implementation. To our knowledge, there is currently no global source providing historical data or comprehensive information on implementation of policies.

Although our team makes every effort to assure the accuracy of the data, we realize that mistakes are possible due to human error or data omissions while coding. If you find an error in our databases, we ask that you contact us to report it and provide any available documentation through which the error can be verified and corrected.