How reliable are self-reported estimates of birth registration completeness from household surveys? Comparison with vital statistics systems

Tim Adair, University of Melbourne
Alan Lopez, Institute of Health Metrics and Evaluation

Background Estimates of completeness of birth registration collected by Demographic and Health Surveys (DHS) and Multiple Indicator Cluster Surveys (MICS) and published by UNICEF primarily rely on registration status of children reported by respondents. However, these may be inaccurate when compared with completeness based on nationally-reported birth registration statistics. This study compares completeness estimated from self-reported data in surveys and civil registration and vital statistics (CRVS) systems. Methods Self-reported estimates of birth registration completeness were calculated from the UNICEF database, DHS and MICS. CRVS completeness was calculated as birth registrations divided by estimates of live births published in the United Nations (UN) World Population Prospects or the Global Burden of Disease (GBD) Study. Summary measures of concordance were used to compare completeness estimates. Findings Birth registration completeness (less than five years) from self-reported data is higher than that estimated from CRVS data in 26 of 28 countries where CRVS completeness is less than 95% (an average 13 and median 9-10 percentage points higher). Self-reported completeness is over 30 percentage points higher than CRVS completeness in three countries. Conclusions These findings suggest that self-reported completeness figures over-estimate completeness when compared with CRVS data, especially at lower levels of completeness.

Keywords: Civil Registration and Vital Statistics (CRVS), Fertility and childbirth, Demographic and social surveys

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  Presented in Session 136. Data Quality: From Pregnancy to Death