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WHO CHRONICLE. 1980 Jan; 34(1):9-15.The need for data on socioeconomic differentials in morality and the difficulties encountered in collecting this type of data are discussed, and mortality research priorities for both developing and developed countries are suggested. Socioeconomic factors have an impact on mortality, and mortality levels vary not only by country, but within each country by social class. In recent years mortality levels have declined in most countries; however, differences in mortality levels between social classes have probably increased. Although data on socioeconomic differentials in mortality is needed to adequately access the health status and health needs of a country, mortality data, especially in developing countries, is limited. In developing countries, vital registration systems must either be established or greatly improved. Until these systems are improved, mortality data will have to be collected mainly by survey techniques. The scope of maternal and infant mortality surveys should be expanded to include data on all types of mortality. National survey capabilities should be improved by establishing training programs for survey personnel. WHO could coordinate and direct these mortality data collection efforts. In developed countries, data collection is generally adequate, and the emphasis should be placed on developing better analytical tools for processing existing data. Despite the lack of mortality data in developing countries, it is known that differences in mortality levels between social classes could be reduced by improving: 1) community based preventive healt,h care systems and 2) sanitary conditions.