After reading this article you will learn about the meaning and uses of Vital Statistics.
Meaning of Vital Statistics:
Vital statistics, also known as vital events or vital records, are an important source of demographic data. They explain statistically such events as births, deaths, marriages, divorces, etc. According to N.B. Ryder, they “provide cumulative summaries for successive time periods of population movements like birth, death, migration, marriage and marital dissolution as well as demographic and other relevant characteristics of the individuals involved in these events.”
But in underdeveloped countries due to mass illiteracy and ignorance, the registration of births, deaths, marriages, migration, etc. is not done, especially by people living in rural areas. However, in the majority of developing countries and in all developed countries registration of vital events like births, deaths, marriages, divorces, migrations, etc. is a compulsory process.
Uses of Vital Statistics:
Vital statistics are of much importance for the people and nation.
(1) For the Individual:
Vital statistics are of much use for an individual. A birth certificate issued by the registering authority is an important document which records the date, time, place and parentage of the person. It establishes his identity as the citizen of the country.
It is a legal document which is used for admission to a school, for getting a passport to travel abroad and even to migrate to another country, etc. Similarly, a marriage certificate records the marital status of a couple and legalises the birth of children from that marriage.
(2) Legal Use:
Vital statistics are legally very useful. Certificates relating to birth, death, marriage, divorce, etc. have legal importance. For instance, a death certificate is an important legal document for the settlement of property of the deceased person, the claim of his/her insurance policy, etc.
(3) Health and Family Planning Programmes:
Vital statistics relating to births and deaths can be used in health and family planning programmes of the government. The causes of deaths, and the mortality rates of different categories help in assessing the health condition of the people.
Accordingly, the state can formulate such health programmes as malaria eradication, polio and small pox immunisation, tuberculosis, etc. In keeping with the requirements of the population, the government can open hospitals, maternity and child welfare centres, etc.
(4) Study of Social Conditions:
Vital statistics like birth and death rates, divorce rate, widow remarriage, widowhood, etc. throw light on the social conditions of a society, as also its customs and traditions.
(5) For Administrators and Planners:
Data provided by vital statistics relating to trend and growth of population in the various age groups and on the whole, help planners and administrators to plan and formulate policies for public health, education, housing, transport and communications, food supplies, etc.
(6) For the Nation:
Vital statistics are of much importance for the nation. They help in analysing the population trends at any given point of time. They try to fill the gap between two censuses. They relate to the composition, size, distribution and growth of population.
It is on their basis that population projections can be made. Vital statistics help in formulating policies for providing social security to the people. Even the rules for immigration and emigration can be framed on the basis of population growth data. Vital statistics are also used for updating electoral rolls and demarcation of constituencies.