MICS Link is a set of simple but innovative approaches to linking household survey data to data from other sources. The initiative was born in response to the increasing demand for evidence for policy making, with the goal to contribute to data interoperability and strengthen data use: the “ability to access and process data assets from multiple sources…and to integrate them into coherent information products or services…enables multiple stakeholders to make the best use of existing data standards, classifications and methodologies…thus enhancing the usability, and importantly re-usability, of any given dataset by making it part of a more holistic interlinked data ecosystem.” 
Work to date
Linking MICS to vaccination records in health facilities
Over the past 15 years, several MICS surveys undertaken in the regions of Europe and Central Asia, South Asia, and East Asia and the Pacific have linked household-based information on children to their vaccination records kept in health facilities. During the household visit, interviewers collect personal information about children and the location of the facilities where their records are kept. Field teams visit the facilities, where they access individual children’s vaccination records and capture their vaccination information using tablets on a separate MICS form (Questionnaire Form for Vaccination Records at Health Facility).
Linking MICS to health providers
In 2016, a study to estimate the quality of health care at the population level was conducted in the Northern Region of Côte d’Ivoire. MICS data on access to health care services was linked to facility-based information collected from health care providers to determine the quality of care received by individuals. The study also compared two linking methods (ecological and exact-match) concluding that ecological linking methods (whereby an individual is linked to the average quality estimate of close-by facilities) can be used when the exact facility where health services were accessed is not known .
Linking MICS to Education Management Information System (EMIS)
In 2020, MICS launched a simple but innovative approach to assess how household and school environments contribute to children’s education by linking MICS data to data from Education Management Information Systems (EMIS). The MICS Link/EMIS pilot project in Fiji and Eswatini bring together information relevant to children's educational outcomes that is collected through household surveys and school administrative records.
EMIS is based on data periodically reported by school administrators and teachers, covering multiple dimensions of the education system (from information on student enrollment and learning to information on teachers’ qualifications, school management, expenditures, facilities, and infrastructure). Unlike MICS, school records do not capture socio-economic information about children and adolescents, their learning environment at home, or their parents’ involvement in education.
MICS and EMIS collect complementary information on different aspects of the education production function. Relying exclusively on MICS or EMIS data limits the potential for fully understanding the factors affecting education. Linking data from both sources can thus contribute to unpacking the relationship between the inputs and outputs of the education system and strengthen equity analysis in education. In particular, the link can bring together under the same analytical framework data on school conditions and resources and data on the socio-economic characteristics of children and their households.
The pilot project in Fiji and Eswatini is being rolled out in collaboration with government stakeholders in both countries, including Ministries of Education, EMIS technical teams and National Statistical Offices. The goal is to promote the interaction between both data sources to help answer key education policy questions: How does school infrastructure (e.g. WASH facilities, power, internet) contribute to education outcomes (e.g. access, retention and learning outcomes)? Controlling for school inputs, how does parental support contribute to learning outcomes?
In order to operationalize the link between MICS and EMIS, certain pre-conditions must exist. EMIS must be:
- Reliable, with a relatively extensive coverage of all schools in the surveyed area;
- Periodically updated;
- Available electronically, with data accessible for analytical purposes;
- Robust with strong quality assurance mechanisms in place for the data collected through it; and
- Protective of data confidentiality with privacy of data being respected.
More specifically, the following is needed to enable the link between the two data sources:
- A list of schools registered with the Ministry of Education, with information on their locations, names, and unique identifiers (i.e. school codes);
- During MICS data collection, for each child attending school in the household, identifying information about the child's school must be gathered (e.g. school location and name);
- The EMIS school ID system must be integrated into the MICS data entry application to allow interviewers to identify schools from a dropdown menu based on information on school location and name provided by respondents.
The pilots in Fiji and Eswatini are expected to conclude before the end of 2021, with a summary of key MICS Link-EMIS statistics released around the time of the MICS Survey Findings Report, followed by further analysis to address key education policy questions in 2022.
 Source: Multi-stakeholder meeting on data interoperability for the SDGs Sunday, 5 March 2017, Meeting organized by the United Nations Statistical Division (UNSD) and Global Partnership.
 For more details about this study, see paper published in the Journal of Global Health: http://www.jogh.org/documents/issue201802/jogh-08-020803.htm