New method to estimate completeness of death registration

A new empirical method to estimate the completeness of death registration, has been developed and launched by the CRVS team at the University of Melbourne.

Knowing the completeness of death registration reasonably and reliably is critical to properly plan strategies to improve completeness and thus the public policy utility of morality data.

Dr Adair and Professor Alan Lopez from the University of Melbourne created the method with the aim to lessen the limitations of current models that were unsuitable for widespread application by national and subnational governments. Governments need to routinely measure the completeness of death registration for monitoring and statistical purposes.

The new empirical completeness method has been tested and used using data from the Philippines, China, Myanmar, Rwanda and Papua New Guinea as part of the Data for Health Initiative. Trainees on the method have been able to learn and applied it quickly. It was developed using 2,454 country-years from 111 countries using data from the Global Burden of Disease study. The method is also used in the latest version of ANACONDA.

How to calculate completeness of death registration using the method
The method estimates completeness of registration using inputs of:

  • RegCDR, the number of registered deaths divided the population and multiplied by 1000.
  • The under-five mortality rate
  • The % of the population aged 65+
  • The completeness of under-five death registration

The method can estimate completeness for both sexes, as well as males and females separately.

The developers of the empirical completeness method say the biggest drawback of the new method is with how accurately the under-five mortality rate reflects the level of mortality across all ages, especially for populations with high adult mortality from conflict, HIV/AIDS, accidents, alcohol abuse etc. There can also be uncertainty around the under-five mortality rate estimate (eg it is comes from a sample survey).

For more information on the empirical completeness method contact