The MICS methodological papers series is intended to facilitate the exchange of knowledge and stimulate discussion on methodological issues related to the development of standard survey tools and protocols, and the collection and analysis of MICS data.

Manual on MICS data analysis for education indicators

This guide details the calculation process for various education indicators and is positioned as a helpful tool for developing national governments’ statistical capacity, helping these stakeholders understand how to calculate and use key education indicators and link them to policy discussions. Many indicators covered are part of the Sustainable Development Goals. Finally, the manual outlines how to perform descriptive and analytical modelling of MICS education data.


MICS Methodological Paper No. 10, 2019, Results of a multi-topic field test in Belize 2019

The Multiple Indicator Cluster Surveys (MICS) often tests new question modules and approaches to ensure that high quality tools are available to countries to monitor the situation of children and women. Since the launch of MICS6, methods to collect data on new topics have been refined by the international community. Further, new measurement approaches to certain topics pertinent to UNICEF such as anthropometric data collection and household air quality are taking place and warrant further study. MICS, working with UNICEF Belize and the Statistical Institute of Belize (SIB), implemented a field test of a number of new questions in two survey regions in Belize in April/May 2019. This report provides a summary of the methods and findings of the field test.

Multiple Indicator Cluster Surveys: Delivering Robust Data on Children and Women across the Globe

This open access paper covers key information about MICS, including the geographic coverage of surveys, modules used in the latest round, essential sampling techniques, and specifics on the data themselves such as data quality, timing of data collection and how to access MICS data. The MICS programme hopes that this technical resource will help to improve the use of the MICS datasets and therefore increase the return on the investment for the surveys.

MICS Methodological Paper No. 9, 2019, Validity and reliability of the MICS foundational learning module

This paper describes the validation of the Foundational Learning Skills (FLS) module, a newly developed instrument in the Multiple Indicator Cluster Surveys (MICS). The focus of this study is the concurrent validity of the FLS instrument, which was administered to children aged 7 to 14 in Kenya, along with the Early Grade Reading Assessment (EGRA) and Early Grade Mathematics Assessment (EGMA) tools. Evidence on the reliability of the instrument – such as inter-rater reliability and Cronbach’s alpha – was also obtained.

MICS Methodological Paper No. 8, 2018, Developing a household survey instrument on social protection

This report shares experiences, methodology, challenges and considerations, and recommendations that led to the development and testing of a set of social protection questions for inclusion in household surveys. The development drew on elements of social protection programmes as defined by UNICEF’s Social Protection Strategic Framework, namely, support for education among children of school-going age, and health insurance coverage. This document will focus on the methodological approach and main findings in the four pilot countries (Kenya, Zimbabwe, Viet Nam, and Belize), and will reference individual country reports for country-specific experiences.

MICS Methodological Paper No. 7, 2018, Oversampling of children under-five in low fertility settings

MICS has developed an oversampling strategy to compensate for low sample sizes of children under-five in low fertility countries. The purpose of this study is to examine how the oversampling strategy has worked in different settings. In this report, we outline the implementation of the oversampling strategy, comparing the results across several countries. The results of this study will be used to develop guidelines for countries planning to use the oversampling approach.

MICS Methodological Paper No. 6, 2017, Development of the early childhood development index in MICS surveys

This report documents the development and validation of the Early Childhood Development Index (ECDI). The ECDI is one of the first population-based measures of early childhood development available at an internationally comparative level. It has been incorporated into around 80 national and subnational MICS in low- and middle-income countries since its introduction. 

MICS Methodological Paper No. 5, 2017, Collecting data on foundational learning skills & parental involvement in education

There is a growing demand for data reflecting quality as well as access to education, particularly in the early years where learning outcomes are an important foundation for later progress. This paper examines the development of two new MICS modules: Parental Involvement (PR) and Foundational Learning skills (FL). These are areas where data are currently lacking, particularly in low-income countries, leading to a call for the development of new tools and, in particular strong support, for household survey based approaches.

MICS Methodological Paper No. 4, 2016, Review of options for reporting water, sanitation and hygiene coverage by wealth quintile

The analysis presented in this report is intended to assist the JMP and UNICEF to gain a better understanding of how best to use the wealth index to help monitor inequalities in access to water, sanitation and hygiene in line with the Sustainable Development Goals. It focuses specifically on the classic wealth index, involving a single principal component analysis (PCA) estimate over the whole sample, leaving to further research such issues as the composite wealth index and the production of separate indices for urban and rural areas.

MICS Methodological Paper No. 3, 2016, Assessment of the effect of twin births, reference periods and birth subsets on low birth weight estimates

Using DHS data, we examine rates of twinning and multiple births in a number of countries and then estimate if the exclusion of twin births impacts low birth weight estimates. We also examine if the reference period and subset of births (all vs last births in a time period) used in the two survey programmes causes any differences in estimates.

The Multiple Indicator Cluster Surveys (MICS) 1995-2015: Monitoring the Situation of Children and Women for 20 Years

Since the inception of MICS in the mid-1990s, no one document consolidated how MICS has developed and evolved over time. In this publication, we examine the rationale and activities of the first surveys and how these laid the foundation for the MICS programme. Through a thematic lens, this publication charts the key elements of the MICS programme and recounts the achievements and value of MICS. In the changing data-landscape of a post MDG era, we also examine the strategic role of MICS in future monitoring activities.

Measuring Coverage in MNCH: Tracking Progress in Health for Women and Children Using DHS and MICS Household Surveys

Household surveys are the primary data source of coverage indicators for children and women for most developing countries. Most of this information is generated by two global household survey programmes—the USAID-supported Demographic and Health Surveys (DHS) and the UNICEF-supported Multiple Indicator Cluster Surveys (MICS). In this review, we provide an overview of these two programmes, which cover a wide range of child and maternal health topics and provide estimates of many Millennium Development Goal indicators, as well as estimates of the indicators for the Countdown to 2015 initiative and the Commission on Information and Accountability for Women's and Children's Health.

Methodological Paper No. 2, 2013, Impact of unpaid household services on the measurement of child labour

Indicators related to hazardous unpaid household services performed by children are analysed in an attempt to develop a new child labour definition for use in MICS surveys. Data from 16 low- and middle-income countries are used for the analyses.

Methodological Paper No. 1, 2012, How sensitive are estimates of working children and child labour to definitions? A comparative analysis

This study aims to contribute to the development of a new child labour module in line with international standards on the measurement of employment and child labour, which can be used in household surveys such as MICS. Analyses using data from child labour surveys in 8 countries are performed in three main areas: questions on employment to measure the number of working children, questions on possible hazards children face at work, and questions on unpaid household activities.