Rutstein, Shea O. 2014. Potential Bias and Selectivity in Analyses of Children Born in the Past Five Years Using DHS Data. DHS Methodological Reports No. 14. Rockville, Maryland, USA: ICF International
This paper investigates potential biases in analysis of data for only last-born children or non-last-born children instead of all children, and in the analysis of succeeding birth or pregnancy intervals, in both the five-year period preceding The Demographic and Health Surveys (DHS) Program surveys and for longer periods of time. Beyond the usual considerations of omission of births and transference of births across questionnaire age boundaries, using data for only last-born children or non-last-born children instead of for all children born in the five years preceding the survey can result in biased research findings. Unfortunately, for certain child health outcomes, some DHS data are only collected for last-born children, and other data only for non-last-born. The correction of one bias may create another bias, as in the estimation of mortality risks by succeeding interval. Given the likely negative effects on the health and well-being of children whose birth is followed quickly by another birth, substantial efforts should be made to try to overcome these biases.