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Health Data & Statistics Research Guide: Vital Statistics

About Vital Statistics

Vital statistics are compiled from data on so called "vital" life events, usually births, deaths, marriages, and divorces. If you're looking for a topic relating to one of these areas (for example, if you want to know something about American life expectancy in a particular city or year), it can be a good idea to look at these sources first. If the information you find isn't detailed enough for your purposes, you can move on to the more specialized sources in the rest of this guide. 

Where to Find Vital Statistics

American’s Families and Living Arrangements

Look here for information on marriages. 
Formerly Marital Status and Living Arrangements.

 Atlas of United States Mortality

Released to the public on April 14, 1997, this atlas is the first to show all leading causes of death by race and sex for small U.S. geographic areas referred to as Health Service Areas (HSA's). The 18 causes of death included in this atlas account for 83 percent of all deaths in the United States during 1988-92. In addition to maps with age-adjusted death rates for each HSA, the atlas includes maps that compare each HSA rate to the national rate, smoothed maps for each cause that show the broad geographic patterns at selected ages, and a chart with regional rates for each cause of death.”
Also available in print.

 

Fertility of American Women

Reports from the U.S. Census Current Population Survey.

 

Historical Statistics of the United States

Chapter Ab covers Vital Statistics and includes an essay and tables on general information, births and fertility, life expectancy, and mortality.

 

Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report

Current source of information on death and death rates.  Includes surveillance summaries, such as the reoccurring reports on abortion that are particularly valuable for their comprehensive treatment of the subject.  These reports are titles “Abortion Surveillance --- United States, [year]”.

 

National Vital Statistics Reports

This monthly report regularly updates Vital Statistics of the United States.  Also includes periodic reports covering special topics.

 

National Vital Statistics System
The Division of Vital Statistics is part of the National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS).  This website is the starting point for information on:

  • Birth data
  • Mortality data
  • Fetal death data
  • Linked birth and death data
  • Marriages and divorces
  • National Maternal and Infant Health Survey
  • National Mortality Followback Survey

Statistical Abstract of the United States

Ended in 2011, archive for historical interest. This comprehensive reference contained tables with data on births, deaths, abortions, fetal deaths, fertility, life expectancy, marriages, and divorces.

 

U.S. Decennial Life Tables

Provides information on life expectancies.  Life tables are also available in Vital Statistics of the United States, but use a different methodology.

Vital Statistics of the United States

An annual report from NCHS.  The most comprehensive published report on vital statistics in the U.S. 

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