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Vital Statistics

Experimental study presents 2020 data on the underreporting of births and deaths

Section: Social Statistics | Irene Gomes | Design: Licia Rubinstein

December 14, 2022 10h00 AM | Last Updated: December 22, 2022 12h17 PM

  • Highlights

  • Capture-Recapture method uses IBGE’s and Ministry of Health’s databases to present new disaggregated statistics for births and deaths in Brazil.
  • Data from Vital Statistics, of the IBGE, and the Brazil Live Birth Information System (SINASC) and the Brazil Mortality Information System (SIM) of the Ministry of Health, are paired and harmonized for use of the technique.
  • Having both databases harmonized is a recommendation from the UN for vital statistics systems.
  • In 2020, the highest percentage of death underreporting to the IBGE, by age group, was that of people up to 27 days old (14.9%). The highest result for death underreporting to the Ministry of Health was in the group aged 5 to 9 (2.47%).
  • The lowest percentage of live births underreporting, by place of birth, both to the IBGE and the Ministry of Health, in 2020 showed the hospital as the number one place (2.34% and 0.62% respectivaely), followed by another health establishments without hospitalization services (4.91% and 1.60%).
Experimental study uses IBGE’s and Ministry of Healths databases to measure underreporting of births and deaths - Photo: Freepik

The IBGE releases today (14) the data of the Capture-Recapturevdata for 2020: Disaggregated estimates of the total live births and deaths, which presents a more refined estimate of vital events, under the seal of experimental statistics.

In addition to that, general data of births, deaths and underreporting in for Brazil, Major Regions, Federation Units and municipalities have also been made available today on the IBGE website.

The Capture-Recapture technique has been applied by the IBGE to calculate the estimates of the total number of vital events (births and deaths) and their underreporting, based on the IBGE’s Vital Statistics survey and on the Information System on Live Births (Sinasc) and of the Information System on Mortality (SIM) of the Ministry of Health.

The methodological advance reflected in this study is the generation of underreporting indicators of births and deaths disaggregated by new variables. Data for the period 2016 - 2019 were released in April and now we present the results of this technical work for the year 2020,” says Luiz Fernando Costa, a technician at the Technology and Statisitcs Department.

“We had observed, in the previous release, an evolution and improvement of the underreporting indicator in all levels of disaggregation. Over time, the indicator has beenon a downward trend, and evidenced the development and evolution of databases, either in terms of coverage, or of quality of information,” Mr. Costa analyzes.

Deaths of persons aged 0 to 14 recorded highest percentages of underreporting

As for underreporting of deaths by age group of the deceased, in 2020, the highest percentage of underreporting to the IBGE was that of neonatal deaths, that is, of babies up to 27 days of age (14.9%). The highest percentage of unnderreporting to the Ministry of Health was observed in the group aged 5 to 9 (2.47%).

Considering deaths occurred among persons under 1 year of age, according to the IBGE, the State of Rio de Janeiro had the lowest percentage of underreporting, 0.52%, whereas, according to the Ministry of Jealth, the lowest percentage of underreporting was observed in the State of Rio Grande do Sul, 0.47%. The highest percentage of underreporting of deaths of this age group, for the IBGE, was found in the State of Amapá, 56.87%, whereas, for the Ministry of Health, in the State of Maranhão, he percentage of underreporting was 4.43%.

“This difference of level among underreporting figures informed by the IBGE and the Ministry of Health has to do, among other causes, with the difficulties faced by the population to access notary offices. The North Region recorded the highest percentages of underreporting, but notary offices seem to be less accessible than health services,” Mr. Costa explains.

Also, the researcher comments that it is expected that younger age groups have higher percentages of underreporting, once deaths in these cases do not have legal or administrative impacts, such as division of property, for example.

The lowest percentages of underreporting of deaths were identified in the groups aged 55 to 74, to the IBGE, and of 50 to 74 years of age, to the Ministry of Health.

Also important, among the results, is that the lowest percentage of underreporting of live births, according to the place of birth, both for the IBGE and for the Ministry of Health, was that in hospitals (2.34% and 0.62% respectively), followed by another health establishment without hospitalization (4.91% and 1.60%).

Historical Background

The IBGE has been responsible for collecting information on live births, marriages, deaths and fetal deaths reported by the Civil Registry Offices of Natural Persons since 1974.

According to the recommendations proposed by the United Nations (UN), a well-established National System of Vital Statistics also comprises administrative records of the health area on births and deaths, like those in Sinasc and SIM.

According to the recommendations proposed by the United Nations (UN), a well-established National System of Vital Statistics also comprises administrative records of the health area on births and deaths, like those in Sinasc and SIM.



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