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The U.S. National Vital Statistics System : transitioning into the 21st century, 1990–2017
Filetype[PDF-2.49 MB]


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  • ISBN:
    9780840606884 ; 0840606885 ;
  • Personal Authors:
  • Description:
    Objectives: This report describes the history of the National Vital Statistics System, with a focus on the period 1990–2017. The vital statistics system is the country’s most enduring program of data collection on the health of the population. It is based on information reported on the certificates of births and deaths and reports of fetal deaths, collected in each of the states and independent registration areas. Over the last two decades, the vital statistics system has experienced far-reaching changes, and has shifted in important ways to emphasize data quality, timeliness, and analysis. The changes underlying these areas are described.

    Methods: This report is based on extensive interviews with current and former staff of the National Center for Health Statistics’ (NCHS) Division of Vital Statistics, the organizational unit that houses the National Vital Statistics System. The report also includes information collected in numerous published and unpublished materials from NCHS and other sources. To aid the reader in reviewing and interpreting the recent history, this report is accompanied by a timeline. The timeline lists, chronologically, important activities and milestones in all aspects of the history of the National Vital Statistics System and related programs, beginning mid-20th century, to provide greater context.

    Conclusions: The National Vital Statistics System has experienced extraordinary and far-reaching changes since the early- to mid- 1990s. Data content, timeliness, and quality have improved significantly and these changes have enhanced the value of vital records for describing and documenting the health of the country’s population.

    Suggested citation: Ventura SJ. The U.S. National Vital Statistics System: Transitioning into the 21st century, 1990–2017. National Center for Health Statistics. Vital Health Stat 1(62). 2018.

    CS287798

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