Over the past 20 years there has been a revolution in the collection of high quality statistical information about the health of the world’s adults, children, and households. We join data on major causes of children’s and women’s morbidity and mortality – particularly those relevant to Sustainable Development Goals outcomes – to our policy database.

Available Datasets

Four longitudinal policy data sets dating back to 1995 are currently available for download: on maternity leave, breastfeeding, child marriage and minimum wage policies in 121 countries that have been surveyed by either the Demographic and Health Surveys (DHS) or the Multiple Indicator Cluster Surveys (MICS) at least once between those dates.

APPROACH

Since 2011, the MACHEquity and PROSPERED projects have been developing innovative national policy databases and merging them with rich sources of household survey data. We apply a variety of statistical analyses to estimate the impact of these national policies on population health and health inequalities, prioritizing the outcomes highlighted by the Millennium Development Goals and the Sustainable Development Goals. By expanding the evidence base on interventions that influence the social determinants of health, our research program can help improve maternal and child health outcomes, especially in low- and middle-income countries.

A five-year project (2016-2021), PROSPERED works closely with other academic, non-governmental, and government institutions to develop relevant research questions and disseminate findings. In our work with external partners, we try to create strategic two-way relationships that inform the topics we work on and influence how our research is used, striving to make a real difference on the ground.

We want to create a positive feedback loop between external partners and researchers: sharing expertise and topics of interest, jointly developing research questions that are relevant and have the potential to influence policy change and health outcomes, performing analyses that can evaluate policy impact, and sharing results widely with specialist and non-specialist audiences.

To assess changes in national policies over time and their effects on health outcomes, our team has collected longitudinal information dating back to 1995 on maternity leave, breastfeeding, child marriage, minimum wage, unemployment insurance and family benefits policies in up to 193 UN countries. Depending on the availability and reliability of sources, and on the prioritization of regional analyses, some policy data may only be available for a subset of countries and years. 

These data facilitate three types of related research projects:

(1) national-level health studies investigating the cross-sectional and longitudinal associations between social policies and health indicators

(2) cross-national multilevel studies assessing the relation between social policies and health indicators from harmonized cross-national surveys

(3) in-depth sub-national studies of the relation between policies and health

PROSPERED is open to collaboration with new external partners and collaborators. We look forward to hearing from you!

CROSS-NATIONAL HOUSEHOLD SURVEY DATA

Established in 1984, the Demographic and Health Surveys (DHS) program has conducted nationally representative surveys in more than 90 different countries, surveying no less than 60 countries at two or more points in time. While there is variability in the inclusion of certain questionnaire modules and individual questions, the DHS have consistently focused on collecting information related to fertility, family planning and nutritional status for women aged 15-49 and young children (0-59 months). In addition, they collect demographic information on household structure, employment, education, wealth, and place of residence – which makes the DHS surveys a rich source of both health and socioeconomic data.

Similar to the DHS, the Multiple Indicator Cluster Surveys (MICS) were developed by UNICEF to monitor maternal and child health in low- and middle-income countries. The second, third, and fourth rounds of MICS were conducted after 2000 in more than 60 countries, and include information on nutritional status and child mortality, medical care during the antenatal and postnatal periods, and sibling maternal mortality, among others.

Combining MICS and DHS data, information is available from hundreds of thousands of households with children under the age of 5 and women aged 15-49 in approximately 120 countries. For some countries, data may span as many as 20 years. The countries sampled by these surveys comprise a large proportion of the world’s population in the six World Health Organization regions.