Multiple Indicator Cluster Surveys

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The Multiple Indicator Cluster Surveys (MICS) are surveys implemented by countries under the programme developed by the United Nations Children's Fund to provide internationally comparable, statistically rigorous data on the situation of children and women. The first round of surveys (MICS1) was carried out in over 60 countries in mainly 1995 and 1996 in response to the World Summit for Children and measurement of the mid-decade progress. A second round (MICS2) in 2000 increased the depth of the survey, allowing monitoring of a larger number of globally agreed indicators. A third round (MICS3) started in 2006 and aimed at producing data measuring progress also toward the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), A World Fit for Children, and other major relevant international commitments. The fourth round, launched in 2009, aimed at most data collection conducted in 2010, but in reality most MICS4s were implemented in 2011 and even into 2012 and 2013. This represented a scale-up of frequency of MICS from UNICEF, now offering the survey programme on a three-year cycle.

The fifth round, launched in 2012, was aimed at offering countries the tools to do the final MDG data collection. More than 40 countries had conducted about 50 surveys by 2015. In 2016, the sixth round has been launched with an effort towards collecting baseline data for the new set of global goals and targets - the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).[1]

The MICS is highly comparable to the Demographic and Health Survey (DHS) and the technical teams developing and supporting the surveys are in close collaboration.[2]

Survey Tools[edit]

At the core of MICS is the list of indicators. In MICS6 this is a compilation of now 200 distinct indicators (237 counting those requiring sex disaggregate).[3] The list is not inclusive of all standard tabulations produced in a full survey, but forms those that are central to global monitoring by UNICEF and others. The list is a central message in MICS, as no question is asked in the questionnaires without directly contributing to an indicator algorithm or a background variable. Thus, survey-specific additional questions are always suggested to follow the same guidelines: No question should be asked without a clear plan for tabulation of results.


The MICS questionnaires[3] are:

  • Household, administered to any knowledgeable adult member of the household (in MICS1–MICS3 this was to the head of household).
  • Women, administered to all eligible women (age 15–49) of the household.
  • Children under age five, administered to their mothers. If the mother is not listed as a member of the household, a primary caregiver is identified as the respondent to this questionnaire.
  • As of 2011, a questionnaire for men (age 15–49) has also been developed and is included in the generic set of questionnaires.
  • As of MICS6, a questionnaire for children age 5-17, administered to the mother of a randomly selected child per household.

In MICS, the generic questionnaires include all modules, such that implementers only should remove non-applicable or non-desired modules and questions, e.g. the ITN module in non-malarious countries.

The full set of generic modules include:
Household Questionnaire

Individual Questionnaire for Women

Questionnaire for Children Under Five

Individual Questionnaire for Men

Questionnaire for Children Age 5-17

Other Tools[edit]

The MICS package also includes data entry program (in CSPro) catering for paper-based or tablet-based data collection, standard tabulation plan (in Excel) and syntax (in SPSS), workshop training programmes, in-country capacity building and technical assistance, data dissemination templates, as well as various online resources, such as a survey data compiler (MICS Compiler).

The tools are all compiled on the MICS website, which was launched in an modernized format in March, 2015.

Current Status[edit]

The 6th round of MICS commenced in October 2016 with the initiation of the Programme's Survey Design Workshops and is scheduled run to 2019. The content is expanded to cover new priorities, including adjustments to cover approximately half of the survey-based SDG indicators (about 40 of about 80).

The 6th round's tools were piloted in Costa Rica in mid-2016, and was preceded by a Field Test of new or refined questionnaire modules and tools for data collection and processing in Belize end of 2015.[4]

The MICS Programme is participating in methodological development of new data collection tools, such as on water quality testing, child disability, external economic support, and impact of emergencies.[5] A methodological paper series was launched in 2012.[6]

After evaluations of the programme following rounds 1 and 3,[7] a third evaluation was commissioned of round 4.[8]


The total cost for MICS3 was about $18.6 million (and about $356,000 per country) according to a 2008 MICS evaluation.[9]:7

MICS4 was estimated to cost $31.3 million.[9]:10


The countries listed below have conducted (or plan to conduct) a MICS survey. Reports and data are available on the MICS website.[10]

 Afghanistan X SS X
 Albania X X
 Algeria X X X X
 Angola X X
 Argentina X X
 Azerbaijan X
 Bangladesh XX X X
 Barbados X
 Belarus X X X
 Belize X X X
 Benin X
 Bhutan X
 Bolivia X X
 Bosnia and Herzegovina X X XS
 Botswana X
 Burkina Faso X X
 Burundi X X X
 Cameroon X X X
 Central African Republic X X X X X
 Chad X X X
 China X
 Comoros X
 Democratic Republic of Congo X X X X
 Congo X
 Costa Rica X X
 Cote d'Ivoire X X X X
 Croatia X
 Cuba X X X X
 North Korea X X X X
 Djibouti X
 Dominican Republic X X
 Egypt X S
 El Salvador X X
 Equatorial Guinea X X X
 Ethiopia X
 Gabon X
 Gambia X X X X X
 Georgia X X
 Ghana X XS XS X
 Guinea X X
 Guinea-Bissau X X X X X X
 Guyana X X X
 India X X
 Indonesia X X SS
 Iran XX X
 Iraq X X X X X
 Jamaica X X
 Kazakhstan X X X X
 Kenya S X S SS SSS
 Kosovo XS
 Kyrgyzstan X X X
 Laos X X X X X
 Lebanon XS S S
 Lesotho X X X
 Liberia X
 Libya X
 Macedonia X X XS
 Madagascar X X S
 Malawi X X X
 Maldives X X
 Mali X X X
 Mauritania X X X X X
 Mexico XS
 Moldova X X
 Mongolia X X X XSS XSS
 Montenegro X XS
 Mozambique X X
 Myanmar X X X
   Nepal X S X
 Niger X X
 Nigeria X X X X X
 Oman X X
 Pakistan X SS SSS
 Palestine X X X X
 Panama X X
 Paraguay X
 Philippines X X
 Qatar X
 Rwanda X
 Saint Lucia X
 São Tomé and Príncipe X X X X X
 Senegal X X S
 Serbia X XS XS XS
 Sierra Leone X X X X X
 Somalia SS X X SS
 South Sudan X
 Sudan X XS X X
 Suriname X X X X
 Swaziland X X X X
 Syria X XS XS
 Tajikistan X X
 Tanzania X
 Thailand X X XS
 Togo X X X X X
 Trinidad and Tobago X X X
 Tunisia X X X
 Turkey X
 Turkmenistan X X X X
 Ukraine X X X
 United Arab Emirates X
 Uruguay X
 Uzbekistan X X
 Vanuatu X
 Venezuela X
 Viet Nam X X X X X
 Yemen X X
 Yugoslavia X X
 Zambia X X
 Zimbabwe X X X Totals
Total (surveys) 64 65 53 60 51 25 318
Total (countries) 61 61 51 50 40 24 109
Total (countries with national surveys) 59 60 49 43 36 24 109

X = National Survey S = Sub-national Survey

Note: Only countries from UNICEF's official list are included. It appears that some surveys are based on the MICS tools, but not included in the list, e.g. Botswana 2007-08 Family Health Survey.[11]

The total number of countries having ever conducted a MICS (or plan to do so) is 109. This includes Yugoslavia, which at the time of MICS1 and MICS2 was the territory now split into Kosovo, Montenegro, and Serbia. In MICS5 five countries are new to the programme: Benin, Congo, El Salvador, Mexico, and Paraguay. United Arab Emirates, another new country to MICS, are still developing plans and may conduct a survey with the MICS5 or MICS6 package.

Use of survey data[edit]

Survey data are widely used, predominantly in multi-country analyses, but also often for simple trend analyses in single countries. An example of use of MICS data is provided by Monasch et al. (2004).[12]

Due to the near perfect comparability between MICS and DHS, much analysis draws on multiple data sets of both programmes. However, each survey programme have modules specific to their mandates and not often used in both programmes. For example, a recent compilation of evidence on child discipline makes use of surveys that included the Child Discipline Module; these were all MICS. UNICEF (2010).[13]

Most global statistics, such as on the indicators of the MDGs rely heavily on data collected through MICS (and other household surveys), particularly for countries where administrative reporting systems are not entirely adequate. Other global statistics rely on only household survey data, such as the Multidimensional Poverty Index developed by OPHI and reported by UNDP.

Examples of recent publications are listed under external links.

External links[edit]

Recent Examples of Use of MICS data[edit]

Household Survey Programme websites[edit]

Regional Programmes[edit]


Other related links[edit]