A Science for Everyone, Demography

Death Rates by Country

One of the more useful publications to compare nations is the CIA World Factbook.  While we tend to think of the CIA as secret agents, a lot of them are data geeks crunching numbers.  The data they develop about each country is impressive, and like the US Census, the CIA sets the standard for the most accessible and reliable information.  When I started using it, I needed a land-grant college library.  Now, I click World Factbook.

National death rates in 2018 ranged from 19.3 per 1000 in South Sudan down to 1.6 per 1000 in Quatar.   The reasons vary – a higher median age (Japan is 48.36) combined with healthy living and good health care can still have relatively low death rates (Japan was 9.9 in 2018).  The explanation is Demographic Transition theory – in the old days we had high birth rates and high infant/youth mortality.  The second stage occurred with health care improvements – birth rates remained high, but death rates dropped.  Stage 3 showed lower birth rates and death rates continuing to drop, but more slowly.  The fourth stage maintains the lower birth rates, but in an aging population the diseases change – in the US, the big killers are heart disease and cancer.

Lesotho, in Southern Africa, has the second highest death rate – high infant mortality (44.6 deaths per 1000 births), the world’s second highest HIV rate.  A dozen years ago, I first encountered https://www.worldlifeexpectancy.com/ and the website gets increasingly useful.  It isn’t that the covid is so insignificant in Lesotho, it’s that Diarrhea is so much more prevalent.  Click the link – and check out the demographic factors for your own country.  In the US, it shows life expectancy changes since 1960:

US life expectancy from World Life Expectancy

The personal computer has taken demography from being a science that need a major university’s library facilities in my undergraduate days into being a science with the data available to a Fortine resident who has insomnia at 3:00 am. 

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