Vital records are the most universally available and uniform set of administrative records that have been used for neighborhood indicators. Virtually all births and deaths are registered locally and compiled by state governments. The information on birth and death certificates is used to compile measures of the health of the population and to calculate proxies for social conditions and population demographics. Health statistics from vital records, published for the nation and for most states, have played a long-standing role in public health. More recently, some locales are compiling vital statistics for neighborhoods and using the resulting indicators for neighborhood planning and action.
This paper will focus on the use of vital records for calculating neighborhood indicators. Selected indicators will be described in detail along with a discussion of methodological issues and problems in interpretation.