Frequently Asked Questions
What are Vital Statistics Used For?
Vital Statistics (VS) underpin research
into demographic processes using measures of fertility and mortality. Many examples
of research can be found in the Office for National Statistics (ONS) quarterly
publication Population Trends. The General Register Office for Scotland (GRO(S)) has
some excellent analyses of fertility and mortality trends over time and the
GRO(S) website is well worth a visit. See in particular the 2003
Annual Review of Demographic Trends.
VS are also a fundamental data input to population
estimating and forecasting methods which are used to
provide population age-sex counts outside of the
decennial censuses. ONS publish subnational
estimates and forecasts for England and Wales from
national down to local authority district level (see
ONS Population estimates and projections)
as well as papers published in Population Trends.
Various researchers have reported on estimates and
forecast techniques, often for smaller geographical
areas than district. See, for example, Simpson et al.
(1997) and Rees et al. (2004) on estimates and
Capron (1994) and Shaw (1998) on forecasts. The
CCSR website has more information about the
VS provide the key to health research over time and
across geographic space from national down to ward level. In addition to articles
in Population Trends, ONS also publishes Health
Statistics Quarterly. There is a wealth of academic research using the VS
as a resource, often in combination with other Census data. See, for example,
Drever and Whitehead (1995), Rees et al. (2003) and Shaw et al. (1999).
How is the data collected?
It has been a legal requirement for people to register births
and deaths since 1838. Currently, births must be registered
within 42 days of the birth. Deaths must be registered within
5 days, with the medical certificate of the cause of death to
be taken to the register office (for more information on the
registration process, see the General Register
In England and Wales births and deaths registrations are
collected by local authorities and passed through the
Registrar General to ONS.
ONS collate the VS data which are aggregated at various
geographical scales, from national down to electoral wards,
and then disseminated as tables for each calendar year.
What is a GIS?
A Geographical Information System (GIS) combines layers of information to give
a clearer view and understanding of the spatial, geographical patterns of the
anyone access our CommonGIS application?
Our CommonGIS application is freely available to UK academics
data is available on CommonGIS?
We have pre-loaded the England and Wales Vital Statistics on fertility
and mortality for 2001, supplied by ONS.
do I get help?
If you do have any problems or questions
about the pilot CommonGIS, please email email@example.com.