vital statistics

vital statistics

vital statistics, primarily records of the number of births and deaths in a population. Other factors, such as number of marriages and causes of death, by age groups, are regularly included. From these records can be computed birthrates and death (or mortality) rates from which trends are determined. The earliest known system of vital statistics was in China. In England the clergy was required as early as the 16th cent. to keep records of christenings, marriages, and burials; during the 17th cent. the clergy in France, Italy, and Spain began to keep similar records. The oldest continuous national records system is that of Sweden (since 1741). The clergy and government officials in the colonies of North America began to record vital statistics in the 17th cent.; on a national level, the U.S. government started publishing annual records of deaths in 1900 and of births in 1915. The most striking trend shown by recent vital statistics is the rapid increase of the populations of nonindustrial countries due to a sharp decline in the mortality rate and an acceleration of the birthrate.

See United Nations Statistical Office, Handbook of Vital Statistics Methods (1955); R. Pressat, Demographic Analysis (tr. 1972).

Vital statistics are the information maintained by a government, recording the birth and death of individuals within that government's jurisdiction. These data are used by public health programs to evaluate how effective their programs are. They are the cornerstone of public health systems today.

A useful by-product of birth and death registration are official certificates of those events. These certificates serve as prima facie evidence of that event.

The agency responsible for overseeing this system in the United States is the National Center for Health Statistics, a division of Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

In slang it can also refer to bust-waist-hip measurement (BWH)

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