Vital Registration Systems

What is vital registration?

United Nations’ definition of civil registration:

the continuous, permanent, compulsory and universal recording of the occurrence and characteristics of vital events pertaining to the population as provided through decree or regulation in accordance with the legal requirements of a country.”

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Vital or civil registration is the system by which a government records the vital events of its citizens and residents. Vital registration creates legal documents which may be used to establish and protect the civil rights of individuals, as well as providing a source of data which may be compiled to give vital statistics.

In contrast to censuses, which collect information on every member of a population at a single point in time, vital registration systems collect information on individuals as demographic events occur. You may also see ‘vital registration’ called ‘civil registration’, which is the preferred term of the UN (see textbox to the right). Many vital registration systems record births, deaths, foetal deaths, marriages, divorces and adoptions, as well as recording information on the individual who experiences the event, such as age, religion, occupation etc. These data are then compiled into vital statistics bulletins.

Interaction What advantages come from registering vital events?


Think about the difference between advantages to the individual and advantages to society.