2.3.15 Socio-demographic Information as an Instrument of Analysis, Policies and Empowerment

Facts/messages: A functional statistical system is a key asset for the rational administration of public policies, including public policies in the area of population, reproductive health and gender. Assessing the quality of the national statistical system provides an opportunity to systematize the statistical information in the country, which facilities the work to be done in other sections of the PSA. This includes systematizing the information collected through several surveys, including the DHS and MICS, but also other kinds of surveys that the UNFPA country office may be less familiar with. Some countries have integrated demographic and socio-economic databases that are available online. If the country has such a database, this is an opportunity to analyze how complete it is and what use is being made of it. The importance of issues related to statistical – especially socio-demographic – information should be highlighted, in order to analyze the state of the national supply (coverage, currentness, consistency and level of disaggregation) of available data in relation to the demand in research and decision-making. By illustrating shortfalls and the most conspicuous weaknesses priority corrective measures can be recommended. In some countries, the statistical system is highly centralized in a National Statistical Office. In others, important parts of the information are controlled by line Ministries, Central Banks or other government agencies that may not share a unified set of technical criteria and data policies. This situation and its consequences for the availability of high quality data need to be assessed. The role of socio-demographic information in a democratic society, not only for research and decision-making, but also for ensuring public transparency, citizen participation and social accountability at all government levels should be underscored. Also, evaluate the use that is made of available information: in many countries data are available but no analysis is carried out, either for academic purposes or in support of decision-making. This would be an excellent opportunity to position statistical information as a public good.

Methodology: Design a table with deficiencies in information, indicators, and sources, highlighting data quality, access to information, as well as public transparency. Indicate the degree of completeness of the vital registration system and of the latest census. Discuss the use of REDATAM and DevInfo in the country, in case national applications have been developed. If possible, try to estimate the public and private costs associated with the lack of data in critical sectors. Or, conversely, point out crucial benefits in the recent history of the country that can be attributed to the availability of appropriate data. Evaluate if existing protection mechanisms against the violation of confidentiality are sufficient. Illustrate the differences in population registration versus administrative data and elaborate their advantages and disadvantages. Evaluate the quality and the use that has been made of the data from the most recent census. Elicit the shortfalls of data collection in some areas of interest for analysis, for example limited migration data with respect to internal migration, international migrants flows and stock. If there are any recent evaluations of the national statistical system (e.g. in the context of Paris 21), indicate the results. Try to assess to what extent the national statistical system has improved in recent years.

Primary Sources:

  • Internal evaluations of the national statistical authorities;
  • National census;
  • Survey reports;
  • Evaluations of the administrative databases in the country.

Secondary Sources:

  • World Bank (2001). Strengthening statistical systems for poverty reduction strategies (PRSP Source Book);
  • Paris 21 evaluations of the national statistical system, if they exist. Some information about the overall improvement of national statistical systems since 1999 can be found in Paris 21 (2009). Paris 21 at Ten. Improvements in statistical capacity since 1999. Paris, OECD;
  • UN Statistical Division. Demographic Yearbook and other resources that qualify the quality of data in the country;
  • The World Bank. Web page on LSMS surveys with a detailed categorization of the subjects investigated: http://iresearch.worldbank.org/lsms/lsmssurveyFinder.htm;
  • MEASURE DHS. The MEASURE DHS web page contains detailed information about DHS surveys carried out in the country: http://measuredhs.com/;
  • UNICEF. ChildInfo provides detailed information on its MICS surveys. Available at: http://www.childinfo.org/mics.html.