National Records of Scotland

Preserving the past, Recording the present, Informing the future

2019 Improvements to Vital Events Statistics

2019 Improvements to Vital Events Statistics

2019 improvements to the statistical information available, on the NRS web site, about births, stillbirths, adoptions, marriages, civil partnerships and deaths

This note describes the main improvements, made in 2019, to the statistical information about “Vital Events” (i.e. births, stillbirths, adoptions, marriages, civil partnerships and deaths) which is available on the NRS web site (and also on the “” web site).  It does not mention a number of "minor" improvements.

Babies’ First Names: Names Given To Both Sexes     (published 19 March 2019)

A new web section, this includes:

  • examples of how most names are very strongly associated with one sex;
  • a table of all the names which were given to at least 50 babies of each sex in the period covered by the figures;
  • examples of such names for which the numbers were fairly evenly split between the sexes; and
  • details of names which were given to at least 150 babies of each sex, including examples of the balance between the sexes changing over the period.

Quarterly Births, Deaths and other Vital Events    (published in March, June, September and December)

  • a chart showing quarterly age-standardised death rates was added in June 2019
  • Table Q4 was expanded in December 2019 to cover more years and to allow comparison, for each cause of death, of the latest quarter’s number of deaths and its average over the previous five years.

Age-Standardised Death Rates   (published 26 June 2019; updated 22 August 2019)

  • a new Table 9 gives age-standardised death rates (all ages) by Scottish Index of Multiple Deprivation (SIMD) quintile and selected cause of death for each year from 2001 to 2018
  • confidence intervals and interactive charts were added to almost all the tables.

Avoidable Mortality     (published 26 June 2019)

Two new tables were added to this web section:

  • Table 10 – Deaths by sex and SIMD decile: in total, and the number counted as ‘avoidable’, 2014 to 2018
  • Table 11 – ‘Avoidable’, ‘preventable’ and ‘amenable’ mortality by sex and SIMD decile: deaths and age-standardised rates, 2014 to 2017
  • and the commentary was expanded to cover the key points from them.

Drug-related Deaths in Scotland       (published 16 July 2019)

  • Tables 3, 6, 7, HB3 and C3 were expanded to show more of the substances that were involved in the deaths, by adding columns for “any ‘prescribable’ benzodiazepine(s)”, “any ‘street’ benzodiazepine(s)”, “etizolam” and “gabapentin and/or pregabalin”
  • For the same reason, Table Y was expanded by adding rows for “any ‘prescribable’ benzodiazepine(s)”, “any ‘street’ benzodiazepine(s)” and “gabapentin and/or pregabalin”
  • Annex A was expanded to include, first, examples of causes of death and whether they are counted as drug-related (for purposes of these statistics) and, second, some information about how the data are scrutinised to exclude deaths which are not counted for particular reasons.
  • A new Annex H describes which benzodiazepines are classified as “prescribable” drugs, and which as “street” drugs.

Drug-death rates: comparisons with other countries for 2016, 2017 and 2018     (published 22 August 2019)

An extra note added to the “Drug-related Deaths” web section, this provides three sets of comparisons of the drug-death rates of Scotland and some other countries.  There are:

  • comments on the main points from the figures;
  • tables comparing (i) the “drug-induced” death rates (for 15 to 64 year olds) of Scotland and various European countries; (ii) the “drug-related” death rates of Scotland and the other countries within the UK; and (iii) Scotland and the other countries within the UK on the basis of the ONS “wide” definition

Births and Deaths: Days until Registration     (published 22 August 2019)
A new web section, this includes:

  • comments on the main points from the figures;
  • two tables, giving the average, median, quartiles and some percentiles of the number of days between the dates of birth/death and registration
  • two charts, showing one year’s percentages of births and deaths that had been registered within various numbers of days
  • background notes providing more information about the statistics, examples of reasons why a very tiny proportions of births and deaths were excluded because their registrations appeared to have been after extremely long delays, and describing the arrangements that apply with effect from 2017 to avoid double-counting births which have been re-registered

Winter Mortality in Scotland     (published 15 October 2019)

  • a new Section 5 is on comparisons with the figures for other countries, and Table 9 provides the values of the Increased Winter Mortality Index (a.k.a. Excess Winter Mortality Index) for Scotland, England & Wales and Northern Ireland
  • Table 4 was expanded to include the Increased Winter Mortality Index for Scotland for each winter from 1990/91
  • Table 8 was revised to provide separate sets of figures for (i) influenza, (ii) pneumonia and (iii) dementia and Alzheimer’s disease
  • a new Figure 4 shows the number of death that occurred on each day from 1 August to 31 July around the latest winter, along with a 7-day moving average, the likely range of values around that, and the averages for the three 4-month periods
  • the “Increased Winter Mortality – Background” note was updated (e.g.) to include a summary of the main findings from a more recent study, and to make some other improvements

Babies' First Names     (published 17 December 2019)

  • a new chart, and accompanying commentary, covers changes since 1974 in the percentages of babies of each sex who were given (a) the top name for their sex or (b) a name that was unique for their sex in that year.

General improvement to publications

  • some publications were reformatted, to a style more consistent across all NRS publications, including greater use of infographic summaries.