2021 U.S. Mortality News Explainer: Life Expectancy, Death Rates, and More




Here’s a graph for 1999 through the provisional 2021 result (as of 3 April 2022 data from CDC WONDER):

You can see the crude rate is higher than the age-adjusted rate for most of the years, and that’s due to the aging of the population. Basically, the Boomers have been getting older, and their older ages (and higher mortality compared to where they were in 2000), have an effect on how many deaths there are overall — thus the crude rate continually increasing as there are more and more old people.

However, until the pandemic hit, the age-adjusted death rate in general decreased, though we had a few years in the 2010s in which the age-adjusted death rate did increase… and yes, that was due to drug overdoses. We will get to that in a bit.

In any case, both the crude rate and age-adjusted rates did jump up by a lot in 2020 due to the pandemic, and COVID deaths were even higher in 2021. But there were other causes of death also keeping mortality rates high in 2021.

I will point out that even with all this extra mortality, the age-adjusted death rate in 2021 is still below where it was in 1999.

That does not mean things are hunky-dory.

This is one of the dangers of collapsing death rates into a single number. The increase in death rates has differed by age group, and it has been far worse for teens and young adults through even young middle-age than it has been for the oldest adults.

Yes, COVID has killed the oldest adults the most, but their death rates have increased the least. It’s all relative.

Author(s): Mary Pat Campbell

Publication Date: 13 Apr 2022

Publication Site: STUMP at substack

Weekly COVID-19 age-standardised mortality rates by vaccination status, England: methodology




Age-standardised mortality rates are calculated for vaccination status groups using the Public Health Data Asset (PHDA) dataset. The PHDA is a linked dataset combining the 2011 Census, the General Practice Extraction Service (GPES) data for pandemic planning and research, and the Hospital Episode Statistics (HES). We linked vaccination data from the National Immunisation Management Service (NIMS) to the PHDA based on NHS number, and linked data on positive coronavirus (COVID-19) Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) tests from Test and Trace to the PHDA, also based on NHS number.

The PHDA dataset contains a subset of the population and allows for analyses to be carried out that require a known living population with known characteristics. These characteristics include age-standardised mortality rates (ASMRs) by vaccination status and the use of variables such as health conditions and census characteristics.

Author(s): UK government, ONS

Publication Date: Accessed 27 Sept 2021

Publication Site: Office of National Statistics

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

Link: https://marypatcampbell.substack.com/p/mortality-basics-with-meep-age-adjusted



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

Young American Adults Are Dying — and Not Just From Covid

Link: https://www.bloomberg.com/opinion/articles/2021-06-18/young-american-adults-are-dying-and-not-just-from-covid




The observation that downward mortality trends have reversed in recent years for some groups of Americans is not new. Economists Ann Case and Angus Deaton helped start the discussion with their 2015 paper on rising mortality among middle-aged, non-Hispanic White Americans, and subsequently gave the phenomenon a resonant name: “deaths of despair.” Research has also identified those without college degrees and rural Americans as especially troubled.

In March, a National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine committee summed up the current state of knowledge in a 475-page report on “High and Rising Mortality Rates Among Working-Age Adults.” Advances in overall life expectancy stalled in the U.S. after 2010 even while continuing in other wealthy countries, the committee summed up, attributing this mainly to (1) rising mortality due to external causes such as drugs, alcohol and suicide among those aged 25 through 64 and (2) a slowing in declines in deaths from internal causes, chiefly cardiovascular diseases.

Author(s): Justin Fox

Publication Date: 18 June 2021

Publication Site: Bloomberg

Mortality Charts by Country and Cause, Karl Pettersson

Link: https://mortchart-en.klpn.se/sexesyrs.html



The aim of this site is to give comprehensible information about trends for cause-specific mortality in different population. Charts may be viewed or downloaded after choice of population, age group and cause of death group. The measures shown in the charts have been calculated using open data from WHO (2017), but the WHO are not responsible for any content on the site. For some countries where population is not available from WHO (2017) for recent years, estimates from United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs, Population Division (2015) is used instead.

There are several other websites with visualizations of mortality trends. One of the most advanced is IHME (2015), which contains data for all countries in the world, and uses complicated algorithms to adjust for uncertainties in the underlying data. On this website, the charts are generated dynamically, and the sites may sometimes be slow. Moreover, the visualizations do not go further back in time than 1980, while WHO (2017) has data available from 1950, for several populations. Whitlock (2012) is a website with a great number of static charts based on WHO (2017). This website is no longer maintained, however, because its creator has died.

Author(s): Karl Pettersson

Date Accessed: 17 May 2021

Publication Site: Mortality Charts

American Indians and Alaska Natives are dying of COVID-19 at shocking rates



According to Centers for Disease Control (CDC) data, the age-adjusted COVID-19 mortality rate is now higher for AIAN people than for any other group (Figure 1); it is almost two and a half times the death rate for whites and Asians.[2] Figure 1 also shows that the disparities for Blacks and Hispanics/Latinos relative to whites, that we identified in June, remain substantial.[3] (That post also explains why it is important to adjust for age when comparing across groups.)

Author(s): Randall Akee and Sarah Reber

Publication Date: 18 February 2021

Publication Site: Brookings