January 12, 2021

CDC mortality data for all causes and natural causes

Tags: covid19

In an earlier post I described how to download CDC weekly mortality data for the years 2014 through 2020 and import them into a MySQL database.

The first interesting piece of data I looked at was the number of deaths by all causes and by natural causes for each year. (At the time of this writing, only the data for the first 49 weeks of 2020 are available. To make the comparisons more fair, I used the data for the first 49 weeeks of all the other years.)

year all causes natural causes
2014 2422841 2234024
2015 2541452 2336303
2016 2561148 2339197
2017 2632472 2397635
2018 2669694 2436463
2019 2678618 2440590
2020 2999326 2763829

There are several things to be learned from this:

  1. The deaths by natural causes make up the great majority of all deaths (92% in 2020, 91% in 2019).
  2. Total deaths by all causes were 320708 higher in 2020 than in 2019, an increase of 12%.
  3. Deaths by natural causes were 323239 higher in 2020 than in 2019, an increase of 13%.

It is surprising that deaths by natural causes increased by such a large amount, much greater than the increases for previous years. Because natural deaths make up most of all deaths, and because the increase in natural deaths was almost the same (actually slightly greater) in absolute numbers as the increase in all deaths, it seems likely that they account for most of the increase in all deaths. It will be necessary to examine the other causes of death to see if this is true.