1. Population register
The population register is a
mechanism for the continuous recording of selected information
pertaining to each member of the resident population of a country
or area, making it possible to determine up-to-date information
about the size and characteristics of the population at selected
points in time. Because of the nature of a population register,
its organization, as well as its operation, should have a legal
Population registers start with a base consisting of an inventory
of the inhabitants of an area and their characteristics, such
as date of birth, sex, marital status, place of birth, place of
residence, citizenship and language. To assist in locating a record
for a particular person, household or family in a population register,
an identification number is provided for each entity.
The population register can
contain other socio-economic data, such as occupation or education.
The population register should be updated by births, deaths, marriages
and divorces, which are part of the civil registration system
of the country. The population register is also updated by migration.
Thus, the population register is the result of a continuous process,
in which notifications of certain events, which may have been
recorded originally in different administrative systems, are automatically
linked to a population register on a current basis. The method
and sources of updating should cover all changes so that the characteristics
of individuals in the register remain current.
2. Main uses of the
population register (paras.
The main administrative functions of population
registers are to provide reliable information for the various
purposes of government, particularly for programme planning, budgeting
and taxation; for issuing unique personal identification numbers;
for establishing the eligibility of individuals for voting, education,
health, military service, social insurance and welfare and the
pension system; and for police and judicial references.
Population registers are also useful for population
estimation, census planning, census evaluation and for sampling
frame of household surveys. Some countries use population registers
to produce census-typed tables every five or 10 years in place
of conducting regular census operations. If complete, population
registers can produce data on both internal and international
migration through the recording of changes of residence as well
as the recording of international arrivals and departures.
Population registers represent one of the independent
sources of data with which the population census results can be
compared as part of the process of evaluating the accuracy of
the latter. Comparison can be made between aggregates compiled
from the two sources or by one-to-one matching of the corresponding
records of the individuals so as to correct either the census
or the population register.
3. Coordination arrangements
between the population register and the civil registration and
vital statistics systems (paras.
Some countries have separate agencies for the
population register for civil registration and for vital statistics.
It is recommended that, in such a situation, births, deaths, marriages,
divorces and other vital events recorded by the civil registration
system be used as the base for updating the population register.
This provides an opportunity for both programmes to share and
compare information while meeting their own separate objectives.
The information on vital events should be transmitted to the agency
responsible for vital statistics.
In some countries, the production of vital statistics
is the responsibility of the population registration agency. In
this instance, this agency is concerned not only with the registration
of various vital events and their changes but also with the updating
of the register and the compilation of vital statistics. The Norwegian
and Bulgarian population registers are examples
of this type of arrangement and are under the administration of
the respective statistical authorities of the countries. This
is the preferred situation, where one agency is responsible for
civil registration, the maintenance of the population register
and the production of vital statistics.
If different agencies are responsible for different
functions, the absence of good coordination between agencies might
result in the production of different series of vital statistics
which are inconsistent. Under this arrangement the coordination
of the production of vital statistics is possible at two levels:
the data-collection level and the data-processing level. At the
data-collection level, one form, such as a multi-part form, is
used to record the data and copies are sent to each organization
for entry into its system. Thus, the same source documents serve
as input into the respective systems.
The experience of some countries has shown that
when a single record is used for both population register and
vital statistics purposes, the most difficult task is handling
medical data on births, deaths and foetal deaths. A discussion
of the problem of using the same form for registration and statistics
can be found in the Handbook on Vital Statistics Systems and
Methods, using the Norway population register as an example.3
The population register and the civil registration
system contain common data elements, the use of which requires
a method for record linkage between the population register and
the civil registration databases. Both have personal identifying
information in the database, such as name, age or birth date,
sex or place of residence. The linkage then becomes a task for
computer matching since the volume of records would make any manual
approach very difficult. The use of unique personal identifiers
simplifies the matching process.