Mortality Basics with Meep: Age-Adjusted Death Rates v. Crude Death Rates for U.S. 1968-2020




The crude death rate in 2019, pre-pandemic, was 870 per 100,000 people.

There was a similar crude death rate in 1989 (871 per 100,000) — do we really believe that the mortality experience, across the board, was the same thirty years apart?

This is the reason there is the same crude death rate in the two years: the age structure of the population was very different.


The main point, though, was that the population skewed younger in 1989 than in 2019. The median age in the U.S. was 38.4 in 2019. It was 32.9 years old in 1989.

In 1989, only 12.4% of the population was age 65 or older. In 2019, we had 16.5% of the population in that age bucket.

The changing age structure means that one can have mortality rates trending down for all ages, but the crude death rate climbs because the population is getting older. It’s definitely driven by people living longer (due to those lower mortality rates), but also driven by fewer babies being born.

Author(s): Mary Pat Campbell

Publication Date: 28 July 2021

Publication Site: STUMP at substack