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One of the objectives of the Millennium Development Goals is the reduction of child mortality by two thirds in the period between 1990 and 2015, which is monitored by means of two indicators: the Infant Mortality Rate (IMR) and the Under Five Mortality Rate (U5MR). This paper reviews the methodological difficulties to obtain accurate measurements of these indicators in countries with incomplete civil registration systems. It reviews alternative ways to estimate these indicators from existent data sources and concludes that, although they provide good aggregate estimates, they are no substitutes for a complete system of vital registration from which key development indicators can be accurately estimated. Although the analysis is concentrated on the estimation of IMR, since it is more sensitive to incomplete data on birth registration, similar difficulties would be present in the estimation of U5MR.

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