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What is CRVS and why does every country need it?

What are vital statistics?

Vital statistics are the statistical outputs of a civil registration system. The information contained in the individual civil registration records is compiled to generate vital statistics for the population.

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Vital statistics include:

  • Numbers and rates of births
  • Key characteristics of births, such as births by sex, location and maternal age
  • Numbers and rates of deaths
  • Deaths by key characteristics such as age, sex, location and cause of death.

Common indicators of fertility and mortality that can be generated from a well-functioning CRVS system are summarised below.

Common indicators of fertility and mortality

Indicator: Crude birth rate (expressed per 1000 population)
-Numerator: Number of births in a year
-Denominator: Mid-year population for that year

Indicator: Age-specific fertility rate (expressed per 1000 population)
-Numerator: Number of births in specified age groups (generally 5-year age groups between 15 and 49) in a year
-Denominator: Mid-year population of women in the same age group for that year

Indicator: Total fertility rate
-Numerator and denominator: Sum of single year age-specific fertility rates, or sum of 5-year age-specific fertility rates multiplied by 5. This is the average number of births that a woman would have if she experienced current age-specific fertility rates throughout her lifetime.

Indicator: Crude death rate (expressed per 1000 women)
-Numerator: Number of deaths in the year
-Denominator: Mid-year population for that year

Indicator: Infant mortality (probability of dying between birth and exactly 1 year of age eg just before the 1st birthday, expressed per 1000 live births)
-Numerator: Number of infant (<1 year) deaths in the year
-Denominator: Number of live births in that year

Indicator: Under-5 mortality (probability of dying between birth and exactly 5 years of age expressed per 1000 live births)
-Numerator: Number of child (<5 years) deaths in the year
-Denominator: Number of live births in that year

Indicator: Neonatal mortality (expressed per 1000 live births)
-Numerator: Number of neonatal deaths (deaths of live-born infants occurring within the first 28 days of life) in the year
-Denominator: Number of live births in that year

Indicator: Post-neonatal mortality (expressed per 1000 live births)
-Numerator: Number of post-neonatal deaths (deaths of live-born infants in the year aged from 28 days to 364 days)
-Denominator: Number of live births in that year

Indicator: Maternal mortality
-Numerator: Number of maternal deaths in the year (deaths of women during pregnancy or within 42 days of delivery)
-Denominator: Number of live births in that year

Indicator: Adult mortality (probability of dying between ages 15 and 60, per 1000)
-Numerator: Number of deaths, by age, at ages 15-59
-Denominator: Number of survivors in life table to age 15

Indicator: Age and sex-specific mortality (expressed per 1000 population)
-Numerator: Number of deaths in a particular sex and age group in the year
-Denominator: Mid-year population of same sex and age group for that year

Indicator: Life expectancy (at birth and at older ages)
-Numerator and denominator: Average number of years of life left for individuals who survive to a certain age, if they experienced current age-specific mortality rates throughout their lifetime. Calculated based on the mortality pattern that prevails across all age groups – children, adolescents, adults, elderly adults. A life table presents a set of tabulations that describe the probability of dying, the death rate and the number of survivors for each age or age group

Indicator: Cause-specific mortality
-Numerator: Number of deaths from a specific cause in the year
-Denominator: Mid-year population for that year 


Read more

Hill K et al (2007). Interim measures for meeting needs for health sector data: births, deaths and causes of death. The Lancet.

United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs Statistics Division (1998). Handbook on civil registration and vital statistics systems: Preparation of a legal framework, series F, no. 71, United Nations, New York.

United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs Statistics Division (2014). Principles and recommendations for a vital statistics system, revision 3, United Nations, New York.


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