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 such as national reports on policies and laws to the UN and to official global and regional bodies were used instead, after a review of their reliability and of the consistency and comparability of their methodology across countries. Secondary sources were also consulted to clarify or complement information available through primary sources.

Specific sources for each database are listed under the corresponding database tab.


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 and compared their results to ensure accuracy. Whenever coding required a judgment call by the coder, the rules underlying such decisions were systematically described in a codebook 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 2012 policy databases developed collaboratively by MACHEquity and 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sources used; when a national law used in the 2012 databases had been enacted before 1995 and had not been amended or repealed since, it was assumed that its provisions remained applicable from 1995 through 2012. The same text was therefore used to code all variables for that particular country between 1995 and 2012.

When a national law used to code the 2012 databases was enacted sometime between 1995 and 2012, 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.

As a last step, we compared the 2012 sources with those used by our partners at UCLA to update the databases to 2014. That comparison allowed researchers to fill in 2013 data points by recording any changes in policy that occurred between 2012 and 2014.



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 countries with federal systems, if there was no federally-enacted policy, then the policy applicable to the majority of the population was recorded for the entire country (i.e. the most populated state/province guarantee was coded as applying to the entire country) If the majority of a country’s population resided in states or provinces that had no policy for a particular issue, then the entire country was coded as not having that policy. 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.