• Briefing
  • 19 July 2016

P20: Civil Registration and Vital Statistics (CRVS)

Agenda 2030 and the Sustainable Development Goals have brought us a global commitment to end extreme poverty and ensure no one is left behind. For this ambition to be met, we need to know who the poorest people in the world are, understand their lives, and ensure they are included in progress. The P20 Initiative is a project focusing on the people who are in the poorest 20% globally. It aims to track their progress and improve information about their lives in order to ensure no one is left behind in efforts to tackle poverty. This briefing focuses in on Civil Registration and Vital Statistics (CRVS) .

Civil registration means governments know that their citizens exist, when they were born and when they have died. Without functioning CRVS systems people who are left behind will remain invisible and uncounted.

Globally around 65% of births are registered. According to household survey data, only 33% of births are registered for people in the P20.

Only 1 third of children in the P20 were registered at birth

A functioning CRVS system that records vital events in citizens’ lives such as birth, death and marriage is a bellwether of progress for people in the P20. The poorest people who are also on the margins of society are also the ones who are largely unregistered.

  • People who have evidence of their legal identity are better equipped to access education, health and social protection, and employment and are able to open a bank account and buy or sell assets such as land.
  • Civil registration is fundamental to women’s empowerment, increasing independent control over property, inheritance and family relationships.
  • Children who have been registered are better protected from early marriage, child labour and exploitation
  • If a child’s birth is not registered, their death is unlikely to be recorded in the CRVS system, leading to underestimation of progress on infant mortality.

Furthermore, without improved CRVS systems, countries are limited in their ability to deliver on Agenda 2030 as vital statistics are impossible to track accurately.

The P20 Initiative will monitor the expansion of CRVS systems in support of Sustainable Development Goal target 16.9, to provide legal identity for all including birth registration.

Read more about our P20 Initiative

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Sources: PovcalNet, Demographic and Health Surveys, Multiple Indicator Cluster Surveys, China Family Panel Survey, Pesquisa Nacional de Demografia e Saude as of July 1, 2016, Plan International, World Bank/WHO, Global Civil Registration and Vital Statistics Scaling up investment plan 2015 and Lancet 2015.  More information available at devinit.org/p20i.

Data analysis performed June 2016

Photo credit: US Mission to the United Nations Agencies in Rome