Publications Summary

Document Type
Working Papers
Publication Topic(s)
Infant and Child Mortality
Senegal, Malawi
Recommended Citation
Schmidt, Laura, and Mahmoud Elkasabi. 2020. Accumulating Birth Histories across Surveys for Improved Estimates of Child Mortality. DHS Working Papers No. 177. Rockville, Maryland, USA: ICF
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Publication Date
November 2020
Publication ID


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This paper outlines a framework to guide the process of accumulating birth histories across different DHS/MICS surveys. We focus on three rates that are essential to monitoring progress in meeting the UN SDGs: the NNMR, IMR, and U5MR. Based on DHS survey data from Senegal and DHS and MICS survey data from Malawi, we show that the framework for accumulating birth histories across different surveys reduces the width of confidence intervals around the estimated mortality rates. The estimated standard errors of the cumulated rates are about 50-60% less than their counterparts from separate surveys. In addition, accumulating birth histories smooths fluctuations in time series for national and subnational mortality rates. It establishes time trends that are more stable and reliable than those based on data from single survey data. The results of this paper stress the importance of cumulating survey data to identifying reliable trends and correctly evaluating policies designed to reduce mortality rates.


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