Vital statistics constitute the collection of statistics on vital events in a lifetime of a person as well as relevant characteristics of the events themselves and of the person and persons concerned. For statistical purposes, vital events are events concerning life and death of individuals, as well as their family. In this context, vital events include live births, deaths, foetal deaths, marriage and divorce.
Vital statistics provide crucial and critical information on the population in a country.
Vital statistics are derived from administrative registers operated by civil registration authorities. These authorities may include many parts of government, including civil registration, health and justice authorities. The information from these registers may be used for civil administrative as well as for statistical purposes
The international standards on the design and operation of an efficient and accurate vital statistics system are the United Nations “Principles and Recommendations for a Vital Statistics System Revision 3”. These provide guidelines on collection, compiling and disseminating vital statistics. The Principles and Recommendations contain:
(a) basic principles for a vital statistics system;
(b) uses of vital statistics and civil registration records;
(c) topics to be covered in a vital statistics system;
(d) sources of vital statistics and how they function;
(e) quality assurance in the vital statistics system and (f) strategies in improving civil registration and vital statistics systems in countries.
The Principles and Recommendations have been prepared for National Statistical Offices and civil registrars to assist them with their daily work on registering vital events, and on compiling and disseminating vital statistics.