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Old age, disability and mental health: data issues for a post-2015 framework

Working papers

Written by Emma Samman

Inequalities associated with old age, disability and mental health issues did not feature in the MDGs. This ODI Background Note argues that these inequalities should be considered salient sources of group-based difference, given the number of people affected, their marginalisation and vulnerability, and their relative neglect in international agreements to date. The paper identifies lack of data as a particular concern, but one that can be addressed through revisions to standard household surveys. To this end, it discusses the available data and their limitations, constraints to better data collection and efforts needed to adjust key international survey instruments – the World Bank’s Core Welfare Indicator Questionnaire (CWIQ) and Living Standards and Measurement Survey (LSMS), Macro International’s Demographic and Health Survey (DHS) and the UNICEF Multiple Indicator Cluster Survey (MICS) – to collect reliable data on these issues.


It sets out technical adjustments that would enable these surveys to broaden their coverage, collect richer information and improve their identification of these three groups.

The paper concludes by commenting on how measures to address the inequalities that affect these groups could be incorporated within a new post-2015 framework agreement.

The Background Note also includes an online annex, which presents selected survey questions on disability and mental health issues from key international survey instruments.


Emma Samman and Laura Kiku Rodriguez-Takeuchi