Center for the Study of the Family in Economic Development

RAND has been working with government officials, public agencies, and research institutions in developing countries for over thirty years. This work has included studies on economic growth and income distribution, fertility and contraception, infant mortality, child nutrition, education, health care, intrafamily resource allocation, migration, and aging. Reflecting its emphasis on multidisciplinary research, RAND has developed a professional staff representing a wide range of disciplines: economics, sociology, demography, the medical sciences, psychology, statistics, survey research, and more.

RAND has also developed and conducted major household and community surveys in a number of countries, including Malaysia, Indonesia, Guatemala, and Bangladesh. These surveys have collected a wealth of information on family backgrounds, household income, health, education, fertility, migration, and the infrastructure of the community. The data have been used in numerous RAND studies and have been placed in the public domain for use by other researchers throughout the world.

In recognition of RAND's extensive work in developing countries, the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD) provided a grant in 1991 for a program project that funds a number of studies on family decisionmaking and demographic and health behavior in developing countries. RAND's work on developing countries is also funded by other grants from NICHD, the National Institute on Aging (NIA), the U.S. Agency of International Development, the World Bank, governments of the countries being studied, and several foundations.

Center Activities

Data Collection and Data Support

The center has been involved in developing and fielding a set of detailed household and community surveys in developing countries. The surveys, generally known as the Family Life Surveys, have been conducted in collaboration with research institutions in the home countries. Data are currently available for Malaysia (the First and Second Malaysian Family Life Surveys, fielded in 1976-1977 and 1988-1989, respectively), Indonesia (the First Indonesian Family Life Survey [1993], the Second Indonesian Family Life Survey or IFLS2 [1997], IFLS2+ [1998], and IFLS3 [2000]), Guatemala (the Guatemalan Survey of Family Health, known as EGSF by its Spanish acronym, 1995), and a survey conducted in Bangladesh in 1996 (the Matlab Health and Socioeconomic Survey, MHSS).

The center provides support to users (both inside and outside of RAND) of its public release databases. The FLS web page on RAND's website provides a starting point for basic information about the databases, including the FLS Newsletter, an occasional publication that provides information on RAND's Family Life Surveys.

Conferences and Workshops

In January 2001 the center cosponsored the Population, Health, and Environment Workshop, supporting the attendance at the workshop of seven scholars from developing countries. The three-day workshop, which was held at RAND, examined innovative methods and frameworks for conducting interdisciplinary research on population, health, and environment.

In October 1999 the center cosponsored a workshop on Health Status Measurement in Social Surveys. The workshop, which was held at RAND, was attended by many distinguished health researchers from around the world. It provided a forum for a dialogue on the meaning and interpretation of health indicators collected in social surveys.

In 1995, the center cosponsored a conference on Russia's demographic "crisis." Six of Russia's leading demographers presented papers on family issues, fertility, family planning, mortality, health policy, and aging. Commentaries by RAND staff followed each presentation. The proceedings of the conference are available both on-line and as a printed RAND report. An issue paper provides a brief summary of the main findings and their policy implications.

In 1994, the center helped organize a conference on aging in Asia, which was held in conjunction with a five-day NIA Summer Institute at RAND. The center also sponsored a workshop at the Universiti Pertanian in Malaysia to assist faculty at the College of Human Ecology in using the First and Second Malaysian Family Life Surveys for research in family economics, maternal and child health, and aging.

In 1993, the center cosponsored a workshop, RAND, on multilevel models. The workshop focused on how to measure and include in statistical models of individual behavior the effects of the setting (e.g., community, family, household, state, or country).

In October 1991, the center cosponsored a conference with the National Population and Family Development Board of Malaysia. Initial results from the Second Malaysian Family Life Survey were presented at this conference, which was held in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. The conference was attended by researchers and policymakers from Malaysian universities and government agencies. The proceedings are available as a printed RAND report.

Seminar Series

The center cosponsors the RAND Seminars in Aging, Development, and Population and RAND Health Economics Seminars series. The seminars cover a wide range of issues, and attendance is open to all interested parties.


The center cosponsors a reprint series and a working paper series to help make RAND's research results more accessible to other scholars and policymakers. The center also publishes research briefs and issue papers, which summarize and discuss RAND studies in developing countries.


Training researchers has always been an integral part of RAND's commitment to scientific research and analysis. Much of this training occurs informally as junior and senior researchers work together on projects. However, RAND also offers a formal graduate program leading to a Ph.D. in policy analysis through the Pardee RAND Graduate School (PRGS). RAND also offers formal training through the RAND Fellows in Population Studies and the Study of Aging program, supported by grants from NICHD and NIA. These fellowships are available only to U.S. citizens or permanent residents of the United States.

The center has relied on other funding to train scholars from developing countries, sponsoring year-long fellowships and shorter study visits for these scholars for over twenty years through grants from USAID, the Population Council, the Hewlett Foundation, and the Rockefeller Foundation, and by RAND using discretionary funds made possible by the generosity of RAND's donors and the fees earned on client-funded research. The largest share of this funding has come from the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, which has provided a renewable grant since 1982 that has supported the center's pre- and post-doctoral fellowships, training workshops overseas, and visiting scholars from developing countries.

For Further Information

The Center for the Study of the Family in Economic Development is part of RAND's Labor and Population Program.

For additional information, contact:

Julie DaVanzo, Director
Center for the Study of the Family in Economic Development
RAND Corporation
P.O. Box 2138
Santa Monica, CA 90407-2138

Telephone: (310) 393-0411, x7516
Fax: (310) 451-7059