February 1994 - Number 1

Letter from the Director of RAND Labor and Population

Dear Reader:

On behalf RAND Labor and Population, it is a pleasure to welcome you as a reader of this inaugural issue of the FLS Newsletter. The appearance of this newsletter demonstrates the commitment of RAND Labor and Population to a wide range of survey activities in developing countries, covering demographic, social, and economic themes. It also demonstrates our commitment to supporting the use of those survey data after they enter the public domain.

This issue of the FLS Newsletter focuses on the Malaysian Family Life Surveys (MFLS), which have already been released to the general community of researchers and policy analysts. As the bibliography included in the newsletter makes clear, the pair of MFLSs has already been intensively used at RAND and is being used by researchers elsewhere. We hope that each of you who has already used the data will report the results of your research for inclusion in future issues of the FLS Newsletter. Furthermore, we hope that those of you who have not yet used the data will consider doing so in your future research.

I want to take this opportunity to note that the pair of MFLSs is only the first of a broad effort by the RAND Labor and Population (with support from National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, National Institute on Aging, the World Bank, and United States Agency for International Development among others) to collect in-depth household data in developing countries in collaboration with research institutions in those countries. RAND-sponsored surveys are specifically designed to fulfill the research needs of behavioral science researchers (sociologists, demographers, economists, health researchers, and others) to understand the complicated causal relationships among government programs and individual behaviors.

As is described elsewhere in the newsletter, the MFLS is only the first of several data collection efforts at various stages of completion. A parallel effort is now in the field in Indonesia. Data from that survey should be available for public release in 1995. In addition, instrument design is just beginning for surveys of maternal and child health care utilization in rural Guatemala, and life-cycle investments in the physical, economic, and social well-being of the elderly in the Matlab region of Bangladesh. The Matlab survey will append crucial socio-economic data to the rich prospective demographic surveillance system operated by the International Centre for Diarrhoeal Disease Research, Bangladesh. In addition, we have begun the process of searching for funding for a survey on the socio-economic implications of AIDS in Thailand and for a follow-up survey to the Indonesian Family Life Survey.

Clearly RAND is committed to and actively pursuing a broad survey effort in the developing world. We expect that this and future issues of this newsletter will keep the demographic research community up to date both on developments in the range of RAND survey efforts in the field and on their use by the research community.

James P. Smith
Director, RAND Labor and Population