Matlab Health and Socio-Economic Survey (MHSS)

In 1996, a major family and community survey entitled the Matlab Health and Socio-Economic Survey, or MHSS, was carried out in Matlab, a region of rural Bangladesh in which there is an ongoing prospective Demographic Surveillance System, under the aegis of the International Centre for Diarrhoeal Disease Research, Bangladesh (ICDDR,B). For a detailed description of the Matlab surveillance population, please refer to Menken, J. and J.F. Phillips, "Population Change in a Rural Area of Bangladesh, 1967-87," Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science, 510:87-101, 1990. Further information about Matlab can be obtained from the International Centre for Diarrhoeal Disease Research, Bangladesh (ICDDR,B).

The MHSS addresses the following broad areas of concern to the rural adults and the elderly: the effect of socio-economic and behavioral factors on adult and elderly health status, and health care utilization; the linkages between adult/elderly well-being, social and kin network characteristics and resource flows; and the impact of community services and infrastructure on adult/elderly health and other human capital acquisition. This survey was funded by P01 Grant P01AG11952 from the National Institute on Aging and its principal investigator is Dr. Omar Rahman, M.D., D.Sc., Associate Professor of Epidemiology and Demography at the Harvard School of Public Health. The MHSS is a collaborative effort of RAND, the Harvard School of Public Health, the University of Pennsylvania, the University of Colorado at Boulder, Brown University, Mitra and Associates and the International Centre for Diarrhoeal Disease Research, Bangladesh (ICDDR,B).

It is important to note that the MHSS actually consists of four distinct and separate surveys that have different samples and serve different analytic objectives. These component surveys are:

  1. The Main survey consisting of household- and individual-level information on 4,364 households clustered in 2,687 baris or residential compounds, an approximately one-third random sample of the total number of baris in the Surveillance area. This component is likely to be the one that is most useful to the widest group of analysts. The Main sample data contains an additional 174 households clustered in 94 other baris that were households that fell outside the prescribed sampling scheme and which should be dropped from analyses. Thus, the total number of households found in the Main sample data is 4,538.
  2. The Determinants of Natural Fertility Survey (DNFS), a specialized survey consisting of household- and individual-level information on a particular follow-up group of 1,790 households out of the 2,441 women who were originally interviewed about their health and pregnancy status in the mid 1970s. The available data on 1,806 DNFS women in these 1,790 households represents approximately an 80% sample of the surviving 2,273 DNFS women.
  3. The Outmigrant survey, another specialized survey consisting of household- and individual-specific information on 552 outmigrants who had left the households of the primary sample between 1982 and the date of the MHSS and had not returned to their original households or baris. This represents approximately an 8% sample of outmigrants who had left since 1982.
  4. Finally the Community/Provider survey consists of information on community infrastructure and services on the 141 constituent villages of the primary sample respondents and detailed data on 254 health/family planing providers, and 100 educational facilities potentially serving (in the opportunity set of) the primary sample households in the MHSS. This constitutes a near census of schools and health and family planning clinics serving the study population and a sample of individual health/family planning providers.

The ultimate objective of this survey effort was to enter into the public domain a new and unique microlevel data set for research on aging. In particular, these new data will support in-depth analyses–not possible with existing survey data–on interrelated topics having to do with life-cycle investments in the physical, economic, and social well-being of adults and the elderly.

The MHSS data are available in a sub-file format in which subsections of the survey questionnaire are stored in separate data files. Each sample described above (Main, DNFS, Outmigrant, and Community/Provider) has its own set of data subfiles. The Main survey data subfiles begin with the prefix MHD; DNFS subfiles start with DNFS, and Outmigrant have the prefix MIG. The Community/Provider data has separate sets of subfiles for each provider type with the prefix identifying the provider type (THC, MBBS, FWC, TRPR, VDOC, PHAR, TBA, PRIM, and SEC); the community survey administered to village heads has subfiles begining with VLG. An MHSS bibliography is also available.

The MHSS documentation consists of five separate documents, all of which are necessary in working with the MHSS data.

  • DRU-2018/1: The 1996 Matlab Health and Socioeconomic Survey: Overview and User's Guide, O. Rahman, J. Menken, A. Foster, C. E. Peterson, M. N. Khan, R. Kuhn, P. Gertler, ICDDRB, Mitra and Associates. This document provides a detailed description of the MHSS including response rates and data quality and also provides guidance on how to work with the subfile data structure to construct analysis files.
  • DRU-2018/2-NIA: The 1996 Matlab Health and Socioeconomic Survey: Questionnaires for Household Survey, O. Rahman, J. Menken, A. Foster, M. N. Khan, C. E. Peterson, R. Kuhn, P. Gertler, ICDDRB, Mitra and Associates. This document contains the MHSS household survey instruments in English.
  • DRU-2018/3-NIA: The 1996 Matlab Health and Socioeconomic Survey: Questionnaires for Community/Provider Survey, O. Rahman, J. Menken, A. Foster, M. N. Khan, C. E. Peterson, R. Kuhn, P. Gertler, ICDDRB, Mitra and Associates. This document contains the MHSS community/provider survey instruments in English.
  • DRU-2018/4: The 1996 Matlab Health and Socioeconomic Survey: Codebook for Household Survey, C. E. Peterson, D. Wesley, N. Murray. This document contains the formal codebook for the MHSS household survey data subfiles, which describes data structure, data conventions, and all variables in the household database.
  • DRU-2018/5: The 1996 Matlab Health and Socioeconomic Survey: Codebook for Community/Provider Survey, C. E. Peterson, D. Wesley, N. Murray. This document contains the formal codebook for the MHSS community/provider survey data subfiles, which describes data structure, data conventions, and all variables in the community/provider database.

The Overview and User's Guide and questionnaires plus the two codebooks are available online at RAND in PDF format and Word 5.1 format.

If you have questions about the MHSS survey, please send e-mail to mhss-supp@rand.org.

PLEASE NOTE: To help us maintain an MHSS user's list, we would appreciate users sending their name, address, phone, fax (if relevant), and, especially, their e-mail address to mhss-supp@rand.org. We can then notify users of any updates to the MHSS data.