Birth Registrations (Northern Ireland), 1997-
- Birth Registrations (Northern Ireland), 1997-
- Principal investigator(s):
- Department of Finance and Personnel (Northern Ireland Statistics and Research Agency)
- Data collector(s):
- District Registrars
- Population, vital statistics and censuses
Abstract copyright ADRN.
The Birth Registration dataset for Northern Ireland contains the administrative records about birth events occurred in Northern Ireland since 1864, while electronic records are available from 1974 onwards. The Birth Registration data provide a wide variety of information including date and place of birth, parental forename(s), surname(s), occupation and address details. It also records marriage details and the mother’s previous live and stillborn births.
All babies born in Northern Ireland must be registered within 42 days of the birth occurring. There are around 25,000 births in Northern Ireland each year which are registered by 26 District Registrars. The Registrars are under the instruction and authority of the Northern Ireland Registrar General who are responsible for the recording of all life events (such as births, deaths, marriages and civil partnerships) in Northern Ireland. Once a birth is registered and recorded by a District Registrar it is made available to the Department of Finance and Personnel (DFP). In particular, every birth registered is entered by a Local Registrar onto an Electronic Register system. This is a live computer system linked to Department of Finance and Personnel. The information is then transferred to the Northern Ireland Statistics and Research Agency (NISRA), an executive agency of the DFP, who carries out further quality check and compiles the data for research and statistical purposes.
Information on birth registrations has been collected since 1864. The Department of Finance and Personnel keep Northern Ireland birth registration records from 1887 to the present day. Full electronic registration details have been kept since 1997. The data recorded are of high quality and should have complete population coverage as it is a legal requirement to register the birth. There are many in built checks that are carried out by the District Registrars and statisticians within NISRA to ensure data quality. All births which occur in Northern Ireland should be registered in Northern Ireland, even if the people involved are residents of other countries. For example, if an American baby is born in Northern Ireland, the birth should be registered in Northern Ireland. The residence of the baby born is allocated to the Mother’s usual area of residence and not the place where the birth occurred (although in many cases this will be the same).
The Birth Registration dataset held by the Department of Finance and Personnel covers births in Northern Ireland only. Information on births in Scotland is recorded by National Records of Scotland. In England and Wales it is recorded by the Office for National Statistics. Birth registration records for England & Wales and/or Scotland may not always be on exactly the same basis as Northern Ireland as there can be differences in the coverage of what at first sight appear to be the same statistics.
The registration of births in Ireland commenced on 1st January 1864. Northern Ireland came into existence in 1922. Until this point, birth registrations were governed under All Ireland legislation. All birth registrations are now governed under the Births and Deaths Registration (Northern Ireland) Order 1976, which repealed all prior legislation. Although information on birth registrations has been collected since 1864, the Department of Finance and Personnel keep Northern Ireland birth registration records from 1887 to the present day and full electronic registration details have been kept since 1997. Therefore, the information held by the Department of Finance and Personnel on birth registrations in Northern Ireland varies according to the time period. In particular,
- from 1887 to 1973: The Department of Finance and Personnel hold basic information about birth registrations including sex of baby and parents marital status. The information for this period is held in the Annual Reports of the Registrar General and they have not yet been extracted into an electronic format for research and statistical purposes.
- from 1974 to 1996: Electronic files are available for this period. The variables available include sex, age of parents, marital status of parents, number of previous children and geographical information.
- from 1997 onwards: More detailed electronic files are available on birth registrations for this period including name and address details, place of birth, country of birth and occupation of parents.
Under the Stillbirth (Definition) Act 1992 there was a change in the definition of a stillbirth from 28 weeks gestation to 24 weeks gestation. A still born baby who was alive at 24 weeks gestation must be registered. Details are provided to a separate stillbirth register.
Research Usage and Linkage
The Northern Ireland birth registration data are used for a wide variety of purposes. The Northern Ireland Statistics and Research Agency use the data for the creation of birth statistics, reports and the Annual Report of the Registrar General.
The data are also used as part of The Northern Ireland Longitudinal Study (NILS). This is a large scale data linkage study that combines census, vital events and health datasets to examine trends and patterns in cultural, demographic, economic, health, housing and social issues. The Northern Ireland Neighbourhood Information Service (NINIS) is part of the Northern Ireland Statistics and Research Agency. It provides free access to statistical and locational information relating to small areas across Northern Ireland. Again the birth registration data are used to help provide this information.
The birth registration data have been used for research by the Institute of Nursing Research based at the University of Ulster. Research has included investigating the geographical variation in infant mortality, still birth and low birth weight. The Public Health Agency make use of all the vital events data collected and prepare wide variety of health related research publications.
In theory the birth registration records can be linked to other datasets with common identifiable fields such as name, address and postcode.
Coverage, universe, methodology
- Time period:
- Electronic records: 1974 - ; Historical records: 1887-1973
- Observation units:
- Kind of data:
Individual (micro) level
All births occurred in Northern Ireland (and registered to a district registrar) since 1997.
- Time dimensions:
Repeated cross-sectional study
- Sampling procedures:
No sampling (total universe)
- Number of units:
- Approximately 25,000 records per year
- Method of data collection:
Compilation or synthesis of existing material
Once a birth is registered and recorded by a District Registrar, it is entered by a Local Registrar onto an Electronic Register system. This is a live computer system linked to Department of Finance and Personnel. The information is then transferred to the Northern Ireland Statistics and Research Agency (NISRA), who carries out further quality check and compiles the data for research and statistical purposes.
- Frequency of release:
- Data Updated:
Administrative and access information
- Crown copyright
- Access conditions:
- Contact the Network
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By principal investigator(s):
- NISRA (2013) Registrar General, Department of Finance and Personnel, The Northern Ireland Statistics and Research Agency.
Resulting from secondary analysis:
- Hockley, C., Quigley, M.A., Hughes, G., Calderwood, L., Joshi, H., Davidson L.L. (2008) 'Linking Millennium Cohort data to birth registration and hospital episode records', Paediatric and Perinatal Epidemiology, 22(1), pp. 99-109. 10.1111/j.1365-3016.2007.00902.x.
- Zumpe, J., Dormon, O., Jefferies, J. (2012) Childbearing Among UK Born and Non-UK Born Women Living in the UK, ONS.