The benefits of a robust and up-to-date CRVS system are well-documented beyond providing the best feeder document to establish a unique identity at birth. A holistic life-course approach to civil registration – spanning birth to death, including marriage and divorce – is crucial to the basic rights and health of all individuals, particularly women and girls. Integration of the health information system and the CRVS system is mutually strengthening – facilitating permanent and continuous registration of births and deaths and supporting timely population health intelligence. The current global health crisis reinforces the importance of regular monitoring of mortality trends and other demographic indicators. Yet many countries lack full-fledged CRVS systems, and progress in strengthening CRVS has been modest.
Importance of CRVS Systems to Demography
CRVS systems are the preferred source of vital statistics in a country. Functioning CRVS systems provide a reliable, continuous and universal flow of information about vital events that can be disaggregated to produce estimates at the local level. Indeed, 67 of the 270 indicators to monitor Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) can be effectively measured with a functioning CRVS system; and 98 indicators require population data for their calculation. Information such as the number of people that live in a country and its administrative units, their leading causes of death, fertility rates or life expectancy, enhances public administration and provides decision makers with the information they need to respond to the needs of citizens through more effective, efficient and directed policies at national and local levels.
Civil registration and vital statistics systems are important for demographers. They are the preferred source of vital statistics – the summary measures used by population scientists to quantify population dynamics across the life course. Hence, they provide a robust basis to understand the relationship between different components of population change, including fertility, nuptiality and mortality, and a basis to study the relationship of such population dynamics to social, economic and environmental factors affecting society. Further the methods and tools of demography offer much potential to (a) evaluate the completeness of birth, marriage and death registration data, (b) engage in field research to understand the social and behavioral determinants of under-registration of vital events, and (c) enhance technical methods needed to construct vital statistics from incomplete and deficient civil registration data.
Timeliness of CRVS Systems
Fertility and mortality statistics are core tools to measure population health. Civil registration systems are designed to provide continuous and comprehensive measurement of a population’s health – in the form of age-specific fertility rates, age-specific mortality rates and related measures. CRVS systems can provide important insights into the demographic causes and consequences of major societal changes such as increasing urbanization, rapid social and economic change, environmental upheaval, and more recently, the COVID-19 pandemic.
Description of Collection of Articles
This collection of papers showcases demographic methods and population perspectives that are becoming critical for the progressive strengthening and ongoing maintenance of robust civil registration and vital statistics systems. It takes a life-course approach as the topics engaged span birth, marriage, divorce and death registration. The collection highlights the gender dimensions of CRVS systems – through the study of sex-specific differentials in completeness of registration of vital events and the analysis of gender aspects that shape the laws, social norms, and bureaucratic processes related to civil registration systems. The papers showcase research across several low- and middle-income countries and are drawn primarily from scholarship by IUSSP CRVS Fellows, with the support of the IUSSP Scientific Panel on Population and Demographic Perspectives on CRVS systems, Global Affairs Canada and the IDRC Centre of Excellence on CRVS Systems.
Romesh SILVA (United Nations Population Fund, New York, NY, US)
Irina DINCU (International Development Research Centre (IDRC), Ottawa, Canada)
Submission Deadline: March 31, 2021