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Third Annual India Human Development Survey Data User Conference
March 16-18, 2016

Neemrana Fort-Palace

NCAER formally launched the public-use India Human Development Survey-II (IHDS-II) data, India’s first national, multi-topic, longitudinal household panel survey, at the start of the Third IHDS Users’ Conference at the Neemrana Fort Palace, Rajasthan. A training session was also held on March 16th in conjunction with the conference for students and scholars working with IHDS data. The conference, based on data from IHDS-I of 2004-05 as well as some of the early access files of 2011-12, featured papers on a wide range of economic, sociological and political transformations in India over the past decade and provided an insight into the changes that India has experienced in the twenty-first century. 


IHDS is the first large-scale national panel survey of over 40,000 Indian rural and urban households undertaken by researchers from NCAER and the University of Maryland, College Park, USA, in a long-standing partnership.  It covers the full spectrum of health, education, economic, family and gender modules based on both urban and rural samples, and provides data to re-conceptualise development and to spur research on India’s social and economic transformation. Longitudinal panel data—tracking the same household over long periods of time—is particularly valuable because researchers and analysts can make inferences with far greater confidence and trace the long-term impact of economic and social policies. 


The IHDS contains data on a wide range of topics such as income, expenditure, employment, morbidity, health expenditure, marriage, fertility and education. It is also the only source of data on marriage patterns in India, and has proven to be extremely useful in studies of family formation and intra-household dynamics. The project has wide support from a number of funders, including five grants from the US National Institutes of Health, and from the World Bank, the Ford Foundation, and DFID, UK.


The IHDS surveys have been conducted with broad support from the former Planning Commission and are guided by an advisory panel consisting of eminent academics and ministry representatives and chaired by Dr Pronab Sen, India’s first Chief Statistician. NITI Aayog has enthusiastically continued this support to IHDS. Dr Ramesh Chand, Member, NITI Aayog, in his keynote address at the launch at Neemrana, commented, “The India Human Development Survey data contain valuable information on all aspects of human development available at one place. The panel data will reveal the direction and magnitude of the socio-economic changes taking place in India. I feel IHDS will provide very rich material to researchers, and contribute to strong evidence-based policy making.”


The core strength of IHDS lies in its ability to generate panel data surveying the same households over time.  The foundations of IHDS lie in work NCAER had done in 1993-94 as part of its Human Development Profile of India (HDPI). The IHDS-I rural sample used about a third of the HDPI households. IHDS-I data were collected in 2004-05 from 41,554 households with 215,751 individuals and located in 1,503 villages and 971 urban blocks all across India. This was repeated in 2011-12 for IHDS-II, when the same households were revisited, with a high re-contact rate of 83 per cent after seven years. 


Dr Shekhar Shah, Director-General, NCAER, opened the IHDS Users Conference and emphasised the rich analytical possibilities that this data offers and the impact it has already had. “The IHDS surveys are available free to researchers worldwide. IHDS data are filling a clearly felt need, a