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.

Malawi, Maeve O'Neill, 2009


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. The results from the most recent round of MICS surveys – MICS5 – will become available over the 2012-2015 period.

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.

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