Social Research Glossary


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Citation reference: Harvey, L., 2012-20, Social Research Glossary, Quality Research International,

This is a dynamic glossary and the author would welcome any e-mail suggestions for additions or amendments. Page updated 19 December, 2019 , © Lee Harvey 2012–2020.


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Vital statistics

core definition

Vital statistics are records of vital events, including demographic events (e.g. births, deaths) and changes in civil status (e.g. marriage, divorce).

explanatory context

Vital statistics are usually compiled on the basis of legally required registrations and/or periodic censuses of the population. In Britain, the Office of Population Censuses and Surveys publishsd such statistics on a regular basis in summary form.

Although not universal, the kinds of events recorded in vital statistics are births, stillbirths, child mortality, deaths (by causes), age of death, morbidity statistics (notifications of infectious diseases, etc.), marriages, divorces, annulments, adoptions, immigration, emigration, and so on.

This information is the basis for demographic analysis, both static (e.g. the population at a given date) and dynamic (the changes in age composition, birth rates, etc.)

analytical review

Schaefer (2017):

Vital statistics: Records of births, deaths, marriages, and divorces gathered through a registration system maintained by governmental units.

associated issues


related areas

See also


official statistics



Schaefer, R. T., 2017, 'Glossary' in Sociology: A brief introduction, Fourth Edition, originally c. 2000, McGraw-Hill. Available at, site dated 2017, accessed 11 June 2017, 'not found' 1 June 2019.

copyright Lee Harvey 2012–2020


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