Data sets on children: National and international surveys

Children in internationally comparable surveys (OECD+)

Objective

A UNICEF IRC and OECD initiative seeks to:
  • Act as a network of cross-national data providers, research institutions and academic institutions that share a common focus of child indicator development and analysis, stimulating and facilitating consultations, coordination and collaboration.
  • Increase the supply of data by enhancing international micro-data sources on child well-being by identifying critical gaps. Additionally, in collaboration with the network and the OECD working group on social policy, consider practical ways in which such gaps can be filled through adjustments to existing surveys.
  • Stimulate demand by promoting more extensive use of international child-focused surveys for cross-country comparison and analysis of child well-being among OECD member states.
The initiative will do so by presenting available information sources in a standardized format (see panel at right), and by engaging in dialogue with the network’s data-collection entities. This will increase the comparability of data and facilitate exploration of any overlaps in the contextual variables.

Mapping child well-being in OECD countries: broadening the data, indicators, analysis and responses

In the development of the UNICEF Innocenti Report Card No. 7 'Child Poverty in Perspective: An overview of child well-being in rich countries', available cross-national survey and data series in OECD countries wereidentified and reviewed. Data from multiple sources were collected over a range of domains generally identified as significant to the well-being of children.
The final matrix consisted of over 600 country-level indicators of child outcomes and environments (e.g. family structure). The final overview compared 25 OECD countries over 6 domains (material well-being; health and safety; education; peer and family relationships; behaviours and risks; and subjective sense of well-being) with an average ranking provided for 21 of the countries.

The Innocenti Report Card generated much interest in cross-national comparisons of child well-being indicators from governments, the media and the public. However, the unavoidable limitations of the analysis were also recognized.

The main challenges were a general lack of comparable data on child well-being across all OECD countries: across the ages (stages) of childhood; across all domains of well-being (most notably civic participation, housing, mental health, neglect and abuse); as well as over time. Where data were available, these often took the form of aggregated figures that did not allow for analysis of variations, gaps or sub-populations (e.g. by sex or rural/urban differences).

Data are available for cross-national assessment of child outcomes in OECD countries from a mixture of sample surveys and administrative sources. Such data often focus on a single indicator, such as educational achievement or child poverty. The data frequently do not cover children of all ages or capture children living without a family, and are not disaggregated by gender.

Late childhood is the focus of the majority of surveys (ESPAD, HBSC, PISA, TIMSS)*, while there is very little survey and time-series data on early childhood (ages 0 to 5) or middle childhood (ages 6 to 11) beyond traditional health and education data. Furthermore, scarce data are collected on household environments and family relations, and there is little consistency in approaches among the different surveys.

By increasing dialogue between data producers/providers and the institutional research community, the initiative hopes to stimulate and facilitate research into the development of a broader set of indicators of child well-being. This will allow for a more detailed analysis of the well-being of particular groups of children, and ultimately stimulate national and international debates and policy responses that are in the best interests of children, and enable all children to realize their full potential.

Comparable matrices for some child or family-focused survey can be downloaded via the links in the right-hand panel. Details of the content of the surveys, the respondents and methodology can also be found here. All of the surveys have been undertaken more than once, and so dates for each wave are provided along with the countries participating that year. In addition the matrices briefly describe the background to each survey, why it is being undertaken, and who is involved in the funding and management of the project. Links for technical information and contact details for the surveys are also included.

* European School Survey Project on Alcohol and Other Drugs; Health Behaviour in School-Aged Children; Programme for International Student Assessment; Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study.

Relevant IRC publications:

Child Poverty in Perspective, An overview of child well-being in rich countries (2007), Innocenti Report Card No 7, and corrigenda .

Comparing Child Well-Being in OECD Countries: Concepts and methods, by Jonathan Bradshaw, Petra Hoelscher and Dominic Richardson, Innocenti Working Paper (IWP) 2006-03.

Relevant UNICEF data sources:

The Multiple Indicator Cluster Survey (MICS) is a household survey programme developed by UNICEF to assist countries in filling data gaps for monitoring the situation of children and women. MICS is capable of producing statistically sound, internationally comparable estimates of these indicators. Twenty one of the 48 Millennium Development Goal (MDG) indicators can be derived from the third round of MICS, offering the largest single source of data for MDG monitoring.

TransMONEE. Since 1992 through the MONEE project, UNICEF IRC has collected administrative data from the national statistical offices in CEE/CIS for monitoring the socio-economic situation of children in the region. This data is featured in the annually updated TransMONEE database, which contains a range of statistical information from 1989 to the present. TransMONEE is available in English and Russian.

A UNICEF IRC / OECD compendium of basic information on child or family-focused cross-national surveys

ESS - European Social Survey European Social Survey
Matrix
Website



ICCS - International Civic and Citizenship Education Study
Matrix
Website



PISA - Programme for International Student Assessment
OECD
Matrix
Website



TIMSS - Trends in International Mathematics and Science Studies
Matrix
Website



HBSC - Health Behaviour in School-aged Children
Health Behaviour in School-aged Children
Matrix
Website



EQLS - European Quality of Life Survey
Matrix
Website



ESPAD - European School Survey Project on Alcohol and Other Drugs
Matrix
Website



PIRLS - Progress in International Reading Literacy Study
Matrix
Website



EU-SILC - European Union Statistics on Income and Living Conditions
Matrix
Website



Updated April 2008