Methodology

Methodology

The Child Atlas brings together data from many different sources, providing a one-stop-shop for exploring the situation of children across a range of issues. The database contains a wide range of data relevant to children's lives, covering three broad areas: child outcomes, indicators of risks and crisis, and data on public policies, financing decisions and governance structures.

Exploring children's lives through data

Data on child outcomes includes selected key indicators in a number of thematic areas, including health and nutrition, education, child protection and child poverty. We draw mainly on global databases, integrating the latest data from international organisations such as UNICEF, the World Health Organisation, UNESCO and the World Bank. These data are mostly based on administrative data or household surveys (you can read more about the underlying data systems in our post here).

We complement these international databases with our own analysis of comparable household surveys for selected indicators in a large number of low- and middle-income countries. This allows us to provide more detailed data than would otherwise be available. In the Child Atlas, the main data sources are clearly identified below each visualisation. Footnotes detail the source of each data point. You can find an overview of all indicators and sources in our codebook.

For a small number of indicators, we calculate projections towards the Sustainable Development Goals in 2030 to illustrate how key child outcomes might change over the next few years under the current development trajectory. Our methodological note provides more details on how the projections were developed and the assumptions made.

Understanding risks and crises

Children are experiencing multiple, overlapping crises like we've never seen before. We include data on crises and insecurity to illustrate the range of risks facing children around the world (including climate risks, hunger, conflict and migration). Some data comes from international organisations, others from academics, or is our own analysis based on available data. Where possible, we are increasingly using real-time information to give a more up-to-date picture (for example, we are currently using data on insufficient food consumption from the World Food Programme).

A new function allows users to add a context layer to the global/regional map on the Atlas page, providing a quick overview of humanitarian, environmental, and/or economic challenges different countries are facing. More information how those countries were selected can be found in this methodological note.

Making better choices for children

Public policies and investments are critical to providing the foundations on which economies can develop and societies can thrive. Child-centred and equitable public policies also require governance systems that respect children's rights and support transparency and accountability. Using data from international organisations, civil society and academic institutions, we integrate information on policy choices, funding decisions and accountability and transparency structures around the world.

Highlighting inequalities

National averages mask significant inequalities, and child outcomes often vary significantly across different groups (for example, by gender, socio-economic status, geographical location, ethnicity or other characteristics). Where possible, we try to include more disaggregated information to highlight these inequalities, either by integrating this type of data directly from global databases or by analysing the underlying microdata ourselves. Such disaggregated data is mostly available for child outcomes - as indicators measuring public policies, funding decisions or crises and risks often lack more specific group-based data - and will be more frequently available in the country profiles than on the global Atlas page.

Hearing directly from children

Numbers and statistics are important for understanding children's lives. But a child is not a number and it is vital that we hear directly from children about their experiences, the problems they face and the changes they want adults to make. The Child Atlas shares children's experiences on a wide range of issues and links these to the themes selected in the data. The quotes come from a wide range of children's listening exercises, including Save the Children's largest dialogue with more than 50,000 children on issues such as climate change and inequality.

Harnessing the power of data for children

The Child Atlas puts high-quality, publicly available data at your fingertips. For the first time, we bring together in one place data on key child development outcomes, indicators of risk and crisis, and data on public policies, financing decisions and governance structures. This not only makes it easier to use, but also allows us to put these different themes and indicators in context. The indicators included have been selected through discussions with thematic experts across Save the Children. We will keep this list under review and may add other relevant datasets or remove some that are not relevant to our users. Please get in touch with us to let us know what you would like to see included in the future.

Data is essential to make better decisions for children and to hold governments to account. We hope that bringing this data together will be valuable in providing a one-stop-shop and, crucially, in allowing us to better understand this data in context. But the Child Atlas would not exist if it weren't for the often painstaking and hard work that national statistical offices, international organisations, academics and civil society do every day in collecting, processing, quality checking and disseminating data. More investment is needed to strengthen these essential structures and provide better data to understand and improve children's lives.