Death rate bounce coming?
A good story in Stuff today about mortality rates.
A Ministry of Health report shows while death rates are as low as they have even been since mortality data was collected, men are far more likely to die of preventable causes than women.
Heart Foundation medical director Professor Norman Sharpe said it is a gap that will continue to widen as a “new wave” of health problems caused by obesity start showing up in the statistics.
The latest mortality data, gathered from death certificates and post-mortem examinations, shows there were 28,641 deaths registered in New Zealand in 2010.
While the number of actual deaths is increasing, up 8 per cent since 1990, this was because of a growing and ageing population.
Death rates overall have dipped about 35 per cent, meaning statistically we are more likely to survive to a ripe old age.
There aren’t any of the problems I complained about in last year’s story on this topic: there’s a clear distinction between increases in rates and the impact of population size and aging, and the story admits that the problems with preventable deaths it raises are projections for the future.
While on this topic, I will point out a useful technical distinction between rates and risks. Risks are probabilities; they don’t have any units and are at most 100%. Lifetime risks of death are exactly 100%, and are neither increasing nor decreasing. Rates are probabilities for an interval of time; they do have units (eg % per year). Rates of death can increase or decrease, as the one death per customer is spread out over shorter or longer periods of time.
Thomas Lumley (@tslumley) is Professor of Biostatistics at the University of Auckland. His research interests include semiparametric models, survey sampling, statistical computing, foundations of statistics, and whatever methodological problems his medical collaborators come up with. He also blogs at Biased and Inefficient See all posts by Thomas Lumley »