The WORLD Policy Analysis Center collected and analyzed information on laws and policies relevant to children’s and adults’ lives in the following areas: education, income, discrimination, equity, health, disability, family, parental labor, child labor, child marriage, as well as social, economic, civil and political rights. This website summarizes key original findings from these databases on current laws and policies in UN member states that are essential to the healthy development of children and youth around the world.
Building the WORLD Policy Analysis Center
In building the database for the WORLD Policy Analysis Center, priority was given to policies that are supported in two ways:
- with research evidence that demonstrates their importance to human development, health, or wellbeing in a variety of geographic, social and economic circumstances; and
- with widespread global consensus on their value.
The selection of data sources for the WORLD Policy Analysis Center was based on the approach outlined below.
- Preference was given to primary sources (e.g. constitutions or laws as specified in country’s legislation). If these were not available we obtained information from secondary sources (e.g. referral to a law or policy in a different text).
- Secondary sources were reviewed in cases where the information from primary sources was unclear or lacking, or to complement this information (with priority given to sources that were comparable across multiple countries).
- Documents were reviewed in their original language or as translated into one of the UN’s official languages.
Methodology by topic provides specific information on the sources that were reviewed to collect information for each topic in the databases.
Coding frameworks were established in order to capture information in a systematic way and allow comparison of laws and policies across countries. Our priority was to ensure that the richness and variety of approaches that different countries take to address a particular issue were well captured. In developing approaches for analysis in each policy area, the measures below were taken.
- Initially, essential features of policies were captured based on inherent characteristics of the policy, research evidence on important features of the policy, and global agreement on their value where it existed.
- After determining a set of key features of a particular policy, the research team read laws and policies from 20 to 30 countries selected at random to develop a set of categories according to which these features could be coded, while capturing the full variety of approaches taken by countries.
- Subsequently, this coding scheme was tested on an additional 10 to 20 nations before applying it to all countries.
- If necessary, the coding scheme was revised to add elements necessary to capture new features of legislation and policymaking that had presented themselves while reviewing additional countries.
- When the coding scheme was amended to better capture the full variety of approaches that nations take, it was then re-applied to all countries.
Coding is the process by which an individual researcher takes a piece of information from legislation, policy or constitutions and translates it into a set of features that can be mapped, quantitatively analyzed, and readily understood and shared. This coding process was based on the approach described below.
- Coding of information was carried out by two researchers independently and then compared to minimize human error.
- Whenever the coding of information required a judgement call by the coder, rules underlying such decisions were verified and captured systematically in a codebook.
- Coding was conducted by team members fluent in the language of the original documents whenever possible, or in the language into which the text had been translated by a UN source.
In establishing the WORLD Policy Analysis Center, our goal was to ensure that the data we present is accurate and up-to-date. Nations that were outliers on particular policies were verified using external sources whenever possible. However, we recognize that even with all the efforts to provide the most precise information possible, errors in the early stages of presenting this data are nearly inevitable. Potential sources of error in our data include the following:
- errors, omissions or out-dated information in the original data sources; and
- even with double coding, the research team can make errors.
We look forward to receiving feedback from readers if they believe that any individual countries have been placed in the wrong category. If you are aware of an error in our data, please contact us to report the error. Please provide a link to the relevant law or policy document from which the information can be verified.
While exhaustive methods were used to collect data, comparable information was not always available for all UN member states for every indicator. For this reason, some countries do not appear as having data on every map. This may occur due to any of the following reasons:
- information on the topic for this country was unavailable,
- information on the topic for this country was limited or conflicting, and
- when a map combines several pieces of information (e.g. whether education in a country is free and compulsory) and we only found partial information on the topic for a country.
National and Subnational Levels
Initial data analysis focused on national law and policy which is collected by the UN and other global organizations. In the future, we hope that a team will be able to analyze information about state and provincial policies and laws in all federal systems for each relevant policy areas.
At this stage, comprehensive information about implementation is not available globally. Collecting systematic information on implementation should be a priority for any global organization concerned with government performance.
Citizens versus residents
In the current constitutional maps, we were not able to differentiate between rights guaranteed to all residents and those only guaranteed to citizens. In an age of increasing migration, it is critical that rights be guaranteed to all children regardless of their citizenship.
Methodology by topic
This section provides further information about the data sources that the WORLD Policy Analysis Center used and the coding processes that were followed to collect information from these sources by topic. The source information lists the various sources that were reviewed to collect data on a particular topic for each country. Data includes what countries provided and sites made available by March 2012 unless otherwise stated.
Among the tools that governments use to regulate human rights are national and sub-national legislation, targeted programs and policies, and national constitutions. Most of the maps in Children’s Chances are based on national policies and laws such as whether education is free, and whether parents can take leave for children’s health needs. The implications of these policies, if implemented and enforced properly, are clear.
Constitutions typically outline a broader set of rights for which implementation mechanisms are less clear. They often need to be translated into laws and policies to have a widespread impact on citizens’ lives, however:
- Constitutions are fundamental building blocks of a nation’s government and laws. As such, they can play an important role in establishing values and rights that may be more equitable and progressive than prevailing social norms.
- Constitutions are particularly difficult to repeal or amend. Their commitments remain relatively stable and permanent even as different political parties assume power, which can help guard against attempts by governments to retreat from or weaken national human rights guarantees.
- Constitutions are typically the highest laws of a country, which means that they can be used to overturn formal legislation and policies, as well as customary and religious laws, that violate human rights.
- Constitutions often contain mechanisms for the legal enforcement of citizens’ rights. In countries around the world, such provisions have been used successfully to combat discrimination and hold governments accountable to their constitutional commitments.
For these reasons, we consider it important to provide information on countries’ constitutional provisions in addition to the commitments outlined in policies and legislation.