The Basics

How much does it cost to use the EquityTool?

The EquityTool is free for all users. There is no cost to create or maintain account, nor is there a cost to administer surveys or see your results. Metrics for Management has committed to funding technical support, updates to the EquityTool, and the development of new features.


How long does it take to administer a survey?

A single interview can be completed in as short as 2-3 minutes. Once you have collected data from enough respondents, your results will be available automatically.


I don’t see the country I work in on the list. Can you add it?

Yes, as long as we can access the dataset of a recent (within the last 5 years) nationally representative survey that included questions about asset ownership and household characteristics (such as whether the respondent’s household owns a bicycle, or what material the roof is made of).  This may require your help – finding and getting permission to use a dataset that we have not yet become aware of.

We continue to add new countries to the EquityTool as new DHS or MICS data are released. We will create an EquityTool for countries where a recent DHS or MICS is available. If a DHS or MICS has not been conducted in your country of interest, we can apply the same methodology to another nationally representative survey of household and asset ownership – as long as the data is publicly available. Please contact us here to request this.


What if I need additional help?

Metrics for Management offers some complimentary technical assistance for the EquityTool, but is able to provide a wide range of customized support for your organization. We are eager to help you measure and improve service delivery through actionable, programmatically relevant data.  Contact us for more information.


Details on the methods

What sources of data are used?

The EquityTool uses asset ownership and household characteristic data collected through national surveys. Most the surveys used are Demographic and Health Survey (DHS). These are standardised and high quality surveys conducted in many countries around the world. Variations of the Demographic and Health Surveys called Malaria Indicator Surveys and AIDS Indicator Surveys are sometimes used for the EquityTool. Each country’s EquityTool uses the most recent of these surveys available.


How accurate is the EquityTool compared to the full DHS Wealth Index?

The EquityTool in each country is created to be similar to the full DHS or MICS wealth index in assigning people to the bottom two national quintiles, the middle national quintile and the top two national quintiles. It is also designed to do the same for urban quintiles. The reason that we have ensured that the EquityTool agrees to the original DHS or MICS wealth index in terms of the bottom two, middle and top two quintiles is that our expert panel determined that these were the most important and relevant groups for programmatic decision-making.

The minimum level of agreement is measured using Cohen’s Kappa statistic. A Kappa statistic of 1.0 would mean perfect agreement with the original DHS and 0 would mean agreement due to chance alone. The EquityTool agrees to the original DHS or MICS wealth index with a minimum Kappa statistic above 0.75, which shows very strong agreement. Learn more in our Global Health Science and Practice article.


Are the questions the same in each country?

No. Each country has a unique set of questions, because the wealth index is unique to each country. The EquityTool  ranges from about 6-18 questions depending on the country, with only 2-3 answer choices for each question. See one of our factsheets to view the questions for your country of interest.


How does the EquityTool measure wealth and poverty?

The EquityTool compares respondents to the national population in the year when the source data was collected. Thus, if the survey indicates that the source data is from 2010, then your respondents are being compared to how wealthy or poor people were in 2010, based upon their material wealth. Material wealth (assets, type of housing structure, amount of land owned) measures longer term wealth. This is in contrast to income, which could fluctuate with seasons or sudden expenses. The approach used by the EquityTool is the same that has been used by the DHS for over 20 years.


What do you mean by ‘relative’ and ‘absolute’ wealth?

Absolute wealth can be thought of as a number – an individual’s net worth, or yearly income.  These figures are comparable from country to country, although how much that money can buy changes.  Absolute wealth may also be reported as a binary response – above or below a predefined amount. Typical examples of absolute wealth measures are $1.90/day international poverty line or national poverty lines.

Relative wealth is measured in relationship to others.  In our case, we assess wealth in relationship to others in the country, but one could also measure relative wealth in a village or town. The results are not comparable from country to country.  For example, those in the wealthiest quintile in Niger are not as wealthy (in absolute terms) as those in the wealthiest quintile in Brazil.  However, in both countries, the top quintile represents those with the greatest means.


Can I add additional questions to the equity questions?

Yes.  If you use our application, then you can add additional questions to the beginning or end of the equity questions. We do not recommend adding questions in between our series of questions, as it will affect the automated calculations. In order to add questions, you can select the ‘add questions’ button after creating a new survey. Once a survey has been launched, new questions cannot be added.  Please see our guide for more information. If you are using your own data collection platform, then we strongly suggest keeping the equity questions together, and adding other questions before or after the set of equity questions.


Can I change the wording of the equity questions?

No. It is not recommended that you change the wording or response options for the equity questions. We make every effort to match the language and translations published by the DHS and MICS. To maintain consistency and accuracy with the DHS or MICS “gold standard,” we cannot modify the wording of the equity questions.  If you discover an error, please do let us know at equitytool@m4mgmt.org.


More Technical Questions

Can you use a subnational comparison group instead of a national comparison group?

In countries where the DHS or MICS surveys are collected on a regional level, a regional comparison group can be created. Metrics for Management is currently looking at how to incorporate regional analyses into the EquityTool. If this is something you require, please contact us here.


Who else can see the equity data I collect?

The data is owned by your program and stored in an Amazon-hosted server, making your data private to your organization. Only individuals with the username and password for your account can see your data. Metrics for Management collects anonymous use statistics about the number of accounts created, the total number of surveys administered, and the countries where surveys have been created.


What survey software does the EquityTool use?

The EquityTool uses the KoBoToolbox software. This is a free program, designed for on- and off-line data collection for humanitarian organizations, researchers and development workers. You can sign into KoBoToolbox.org using your EquityTool username and password to edit your EquityTool questionnaires.


What if I don’t want to use the mobile platform? Can I incorporate the EquityTool questions into my own survey?

Yes. Please contact us at equitytool@m4mgmt.org if you would like to learn how to incorporate the EquityTool questions into your own survey platform.


I do my surveys on paper. Can I still use the EquityTool?

Yes. You can use the EquityTool questions to assess the relative wealth of your respondents.  You can register and download the questions and analysis instructions for each of our EquityTool countries, through the Countries menu.   Our questions are shorter than using the full set of questions from a DHS or MICS survey, and our instructions include code in both Stata and SPSS for running the analyses, as well as information if you will use another program.


Can I collect the EquityTool questions in routine data, through DHIS2?

Yes.  Although the EquityTool was initially conceived as a survey, it can be collected routinely as well.  DHIS2 is one of the most popular programs for the collection of client based data in low and middle income countries, and is increasingly used by NGOs as well.  We have created the requisite XML files needed to include the EquityTool questions and automated analyses into your DHIS2 instance. Results can then be embedded within your DHIS2 structure, allowing for a variety of interesting analyses.