Cause of death statistics are the by-products of a legal process, the registration of deaths. This paper traces the historical development of these statistics, with special attention to international efforts to develop and maintain a common classification system and coding rules. The development of procedures for designating the
underlying cause of death was an especially difficult task which has had many critics, but few suggestions for alternatives. Despite the limitations of official mortality statistics on causes of death, they have served well in delineating the major public health problems over the years, and also played an important role in the conduct of epidemiological studies. Yet much can be done to make cause of death statistics more useful, particularly multiple cause of death data.
The technical paper was published in 1993 (#55) by IIVRS.