Monitoring demographic indicators for the post 2015 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs): a review of proposed approaches and opportunities

Monitoring demographic indicators for the post 2015 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs): a review of proposed approaches and opportunities

Based on a review of available data sources and estimation strategies, this paper suggests that low and middle-income countries where complete vital registration systems do not yet exist, or cannot be established in a short time, should adopt a tiered SDG monitoring framework. This framework combines:

  • high-quality decennial censuses
  • annual surveys of the proximate determinants of fertility/mortality and
  • periodic large surveys of fertility/mortality with verbal autopsies (every 3-5 years)

This proposal thus differs from current calls for annual reporting on all SDG indicators. Such high frequency will not be possible for key mortality and fertility indicators in LMICs with limited vital registration systems. This is so because, on the one hand, new initiatives to produce yearly estimates of these key demographic processes (e.g., model-based strategies, community-based key informants) are indeed affected by large biases.

On the other hand, prohibitively large surveys would be required to monitor mortality and fertility on an annual basis. This is primarily the case because births and deaths remain rare events (approximately 10-40 per 1,000 population), which exhibit limited year-to-year variations.

For such a tiered monitoring framework to yield unbiased assessments of SDG progress however, an important program of methodological research should be launched. The primary focus of this program of research should be on increasing the quality of survey data on fertility and mortality.

A second emphasis of this program of research should aim at improving estimates of population sizes in intercensal years and for population sub-groups. This latter aim will require improving the quantity and quality of data available on migration both within countries and across national borders.

 

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