Human Development Index-like Small Area Estimates for Africa Computed from IPUMS-International Integrated Census Microdata

Iñaki Permanyer, Albert Esteve-Palos, Joan Garcia, Robert Mccaa

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


This paper analyzes 24 African census samples from 13 countries available via the African Integrated Census MicroData website to illustrate how microdata may be used to assess development and pinpoint basic human needs at local administrative levels over time. We calculate a Human Development Index-like measure for small administrative areas, where much of the responsibility lies for executing policies related to health, education and general well-being. The methodological proposals introduced in this paper are particularly pertinent for the case of Africa. While it is true that data for much of Africa is not appropriate for economic growth rates or per-capita income estimates, the analysis in this paper demonstrates that they are good enough for many other purposes. Indeed, a major aggravating problem that contributes to the “African statistical tragedy” is the lack of accessibility to existing census microdata. This paper aims to illustrate the usefulness of census microdata—which are vastly under-utilized in Africa—and hopefully contribute to make them more transparent and freely accessible.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)245-271
Number of pages27
JournalJournal of Human Development and Capabilities
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 3 2015

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Albert Esteve-Palos is Research Scientist and Vice-Director of the Centre d’Estudis Demogràfics (Center for Demographic Studies) in Barcelona. He earned his PhD in demography in 2003 at the University Autònoma of Barcelona, Spain and he has done post-doctoral work at the Minnesota Population Center and the Institut National d’Études Démographiques, France. Esteve-Palos carries out work on union formation, family and household demography as well as on immigration, spatial demography and census micro-data, often taking a large cross-national perspective. His work has appeared in Population Development Review, Demography, Demographic Research, Historical Methods, International Migration Review and other outlets. He is the principal investigator of the WorldFam project, funded by the European Research Council.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2014, Human Development and Capability Association.


  • Africa
  • Census microdata
  • Growth
  • Human Development Index
  • Inequality
  • Measurement


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