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Tabulation and generation of vital statistics for national policy

Minimal essential tabulations

When deciding what should be tabulated from the vital statistics database and what should be the topics and themes covered in the planned publications, it is important to meet both national and international criteria and needs; they are not necessarily identical. For instance, generally a country will need more detailed data than that used for international comparisons. In such cases, the data should be collected and stored in a way that permits aggregation into the categories needed for indicators used for international comparisons.

A list of tables that most countries can and should produce is shown for both birth and death data is below. These can further be expanded by stratifying the data by rural/urban or geographic subdivisions. Vital events are often presented together with economic and additional health information to provide more insight.

The United Nations Principles and recommendations for a vital statistics system contains a long list of recommended topics and tabulations for each vital event. Based on the information that countries collect during the registration of the event and what can be derived from these data, it is possible to produce a large number of the tabulations. Find the recommendations below.

Minimum tabulations for live births and deaths

As a minimum, for health purposes, tabulations of birth data should include the numbers of live births for a specified year in total and by the groupings listed below:

  • Sex of the child, gestational age and birth weight
  • Age of mother and live birth order
  • Place of occurrence and place of usual residence of the mother
  • Age and educational attainment of the mother
  • Ethnic and/or national group of the mother
  • Site of delivery, birth attendant.

For deaths, the minimum tabulations for health purposes should include the number of deaths for a specified year in total and by sex and the age at death. Age at death should be disaggregated according to the list below:

  • Within the first 24 hours after birth (<24 hours)
  • Between 1 and 7 days after birth
  • Between 8 and 27 days after birth
  • Between 1 month (28 days) and 11 months after birth
  • Between completed years 1 and 4
  • Between completed years 5 and 9, continuing in 5‑year age groups up to group 80–84
  • Completed years 85 and older.

Tabulations by total and by age at death and sex should be done for the following topics:

  • Causes of death by ICD shortlist of causes – for example, one of the ICD or the Global Burden of Diseases tabulation lists
  • Leading causes of death
  • Cause of death by major subdivision of the country (by relevant geographic /administrative areas).
UN-recommended tabulations for births and deaths from civil registration data

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