August 31st

Main Sources of Demographic Data (continued…)

In addition to Vital Registration systems, there are two other types of official statistical data: census and surveys.

Census: A census is an enumeration (often housing and/or population) of everyone in a population at a single point in time. It is conduced by counting everyone once, only once, and in the right place. Some additional questions to gather extra details about the individual unit may be included. Occasionally, the accuracy of the count can be questioned due to the inherent logistical and practical limitations.

Surveys: A survey is a specialized questionnaire sent to a sample of a population or collection of housing units. These are important in areas where vital registration or a census for basic demographical purposes is too costly, or the region lacks the resources to create and maintain one. It can also be used in wealthy locations to provide detailed social information that is not normally collected by other means (like a census).

Important Surveys

In poorer countries

In the United States, we use a number of important surveys as well.

  • The Current Population survey (CPS) which provides the data to determine employment/unemployment rates. It is administered by the Census Bureau and the Bureau of Labor Statistics every month. Additionally, monthly questions are included which allow the accumulation of additional data deemed useful by the census.
  • The American Community Survey (ACS). This is a newer monthly survey that samples 2/1000 households per month in each county of the United States. Questions are similar to the regular census long form, which asks detailed questions on economic status, housing, etc.

Additional Detail on Vital Registration Systems

We looked at a chart showing the number of registration systems by location (country). We considered the total number of countries in a region and examined how many birth, death, and marriage registration systems that region had. The main point is that data and records are kept more often and using better practices in wealthy nations vs poor. There are still a lot of "blind spots" in the world's demographic data systems.

UN Standards for Birth and Death Certificates

Regarding Birth Certificates the recommended data from the UN includes

  • Event
    • Date of occurrence and registration
    • Place of occurrence
    • type of delivery
    • Attendants
  • Infant
    • Sex
    • Birth weight
    • Legitimacy status
  • Mother
    • Age
    • number of prior live births (parity)
    • date of marriage
    • place of usual residence

Regarding Death Certificates the recommended data from the UN includes

  • Event
    • Date of occurrence
    • Date of registration
    • place
    • cause
    • certifier
  • Decedent
    • Date of birth
    • sex
    • marital status
    • occupation
    • place of usual residence

Next Lecture September 2nd