Death Rate Essay

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The de ath rate , also commonly known as the mortality rate, refers to the number of deaths within a population, most typically expressed by the number of deaths per 1,000 individuals of the population per year. While the mortality rate offers a general level of mortality, it can also be used to act as a measure of deaths in relation to a specific cause, such as natural disasters, incidents of a particular disease, age or gender groups, or infants and mothers. Therefore, a number of death rate measurements are in existence, each with their own distinct nuances. These include: the crude death rate, that is, the total number of deaths per 1,000 of the population; the infant mortality rate, a measure of the number of deaths of newborns (less than one year old) per 1,000 live births; the perinatal mortality rate, which counts the number of neonatal deaths per 1,000 births; and the maternal mortality rate, that is the number of maternal deaths from childbearing per 100,000 live births. Other detailed mortality rates exist, including the standardized mortality rate (SMR). The SMR refers to the total number of deaths per 1,000 of the population of a distinct age group, such as those aged over 65 years, or aged between 16 and 65.

Influences of Death Rate

Within a country or a region the level of the death rate, just like the birth rate, is subject to numerous influences. These include dramatic events such as wars and armed conflicts, occurrences of natural disasters (such as typhoons, earthquakes, or floods), levels of poverty, levels of economic development, dietary habits, and the size and scope of healthcare services. Thus, in nations that experience high death rates, such as those within the African continent, it is not unusual to find that the health care infrastructure is lacking in comparison to those found within developed nations. However, even within developed nations, the death rate for social groups can differ due to their ability to afford comprehensive medical care and insurance.

Even in an affluent society such as that of the United States, the death rate is much higher for members of the laboring classes than white-collar workers; they are less able to afford health afford premiums and expensive medical care. Moreover, in societies like the United States, where people often eat fatty fast food, levels of heart disease inflate the national death rate. Consequently, national governments attempt to educate and encourage more balanced dietary habits and healthier living, aiming to lower the death rate among particular social groups most at dietary risk, and society as a whole.

One of the most significant influences upon the death rate is the infant mortality rate. In nations like Angola, Afghanistan, and Sierra Leone, places with the three highest levels of infant mortality in the world, their death rates are much greater than the worldwide average (about 8.9 per 1,000). In Angola, for instance, the death rate is about 25 per 1,000, and in Afghanistan about 21, a result of armed conflicts, poverty, and a lack of adequate medical care outside of urban areas. However, in both places the infant mortality level is also above the global average, with about one in five Angolan children and one in six Afghani children dying before their first birthday.

The factor that has the greatest influence upon any nation’s death rate is disease, especially those of a cardiovascular, infectious, or respiratory nature. Access to medical care is therefore vital in ensuring the death rate remains low, and it is common to find low death rates in nations that are economically developed, where healthcare provision for both children and adults is mandatory and easily accessible. Diseases such as cholera, malaria, influenza, and typhoid have little impact within places like Europe and North America, but remain potent killers in Africa and other poverty-stricken regions of the world where healthcare is minimal. However, economic development does not mean a nation becomes immune from death by disease. In recent years, HIV/AIDS has had an impact upon many developed world nations’ death rates, although the greatest impact of the disease is also within areas of the world where education of disease, and not just medical care, is not widely provided. Diseases like HIV/AIDS have profoundly impacted the death rates of nations in Africa. However, with wealth come incidents of disease with the potential to increase nominally the death rate, such as deaths from road traffic accidents and liver cirrhosis from alcohol abuse, a significant factor on rates of death in places like Russia.


  1. Committee on International Relations, S. House of Representatives, China’s Birth Rate, Death Rate, and Population Growth: Another Perspective (Congressional Research Service, 1977);
  2. Jean Dreze, The Economics of Famine (Edward Elgar, 1999);
  3. Simon Wood and Roger Nisbet, Estimation of Mortality Rates in Stage-Structured Population (Springer-Verlag, 1991).

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