Assessing Mortality Registration in Kerala: The Maranam Study

Sneha Mani, University of Pennsylvania
Aashish Gupta, Harvard University

Complete or improving civil registration systems (CRS) in sub-national areas in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs) provide several opportunities to better understand population health and its determinants. In this article, we provide an assessment of vital statistics in Kerala, India. Kerala is home to more than 33 million people and a comparatively low-mortality context. We use individual-level vital registration data on more than 2.8 million deaths between 2006 and 2017 from the Kerala MARANAM (Mortality and Registration Assessment and Monitoring) Study. Comparing age-specific mortality rates from the CRS to those from the Sample Registration System (SRS), we do not find evidence that the CRS under-estimates mortality. Instead, CRS rates are smoother across ages and less variable across periods. In particular, the CRS records higher death rates than the SRS for ages where mortality is low, and for women. Using these data we provide the first set of annual sex-specific life-tables for any state in India. We find that life expectancy at birth was 77.9 years for women in 2017, and 71.4 years for men. Although Kerala is unique in many ways, our findings strengthen the case for more careful attention to mortality records within LMICs, and for their better dissemination by government agencies.

Keywords: Civil Registration and Vital Statistics (CRVS), Mortality

See paper.

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