Mortality rates

Mortality rates show the number of people who die relative to the size and age of the population at any one time, giving a general measure of the health of that population.

A variant of this is the subset of deaths considered to be ‘amenable to healthcare’. This refers to premature deaths (under age 75) for diseases where it is believed that effective and timely healthcare can reduce the chances of somebody dying. 

In both cases, it has been recognised for a long time that people who live in more affluent areas, or more affluent social groups, have better health and this can be seen in terms of lower mortality rates among these populations.

Have inequalities in all age all cause mortality rates been increasing or decreasing?

There is a strong association (R2 greater than 0.7) between measures of deprivation for local authority areas and the age-standardised mortality rates in the local population. Higher mortality rates in the most deprived parts of the country were observed at both time points even though mortality rates overall had fallen. The reasons behind these differences are complex.

These studies provide a compelling case for monitoring inequalities in life expectancy with a view to narrowing the gap between different areas. As noted by Marmot (2010), reducing health inequalities would benefit society in many ways. There would be economic benefits in reducing losses from illness associated with health inequalities. These currently account for productivity losses, reduced tax revenue, higher welfare payments and increased treatment costs.


APHO, Health Profiles Datasheets 2013

How has all age all cause mortality changed over time?

The mortality rate from all causes have been falling steadily since 2000-02 and is one indication that as a society we are generally living longer. In fact, this is part of a much longer term secular trend for reductions in mortality. Male mortality rates are consistently higher than those for females, although male rates have reduced more between 2000 and 2011 (22% reduction are compared with 18% for females).


APHO, Health Profiles Datasheets 2013

How has mortality amenable to health care changed over time?

Similar to all age, all cause mortality, the rate of death for causes amenable to healthcare has been falling steadily for some time. We also see consistent differences between male and female rates. For all cause mortality, the male rate is 1.4 times the female rate, whereas for mortality amenable to healthcare it is 1.5 times the female rate. Mortality amenable to healthcare has fallen more swiftly and evenly than all cause mortality between 2001 and 2010, with a 36% reduction for females and a 37% reduction for males.


HSCIC, Compendium of Population Health Indicators

Have inequalities in mortality amenable to healthcare rate been increasing or decreasing?

There is also a strong association between age-standardised rates of mortality amenable to healthcare and deprivation at local authority level, with mortality rates in the most deprived areas of the country being notably higher than those in the most affluent. The slope between deprivation and mortality rates is an indication of the degree of health inequality between local authority areas. In this case it seem that, unlike all age all cause mortality, the slope has reduced between 2001 and 2010. This suggests that rates of mortality amenable to healthcare have fallen more quickly in more deprived areas, and the distribution of rates has become more equitable. However, mortality rates for the more deprived areas remain substantially higher than those for more affluent areas.


HSCIC, Compendium of Population Health Indicators

About this data

Data are based on latest revisions of Office for National Statistics (ONS) population estimates for the respective years. Numerators are the total number of deaths in specific age groups, or number of deaths judged to be amenable to healthcare, as appropriate HSCIC 2013. Amenability to healthcare is based on the original underlying cause of death, and being aged under 75. Denominators are 2011 census-based mid-year population estimates for the respective calendar years. Mortality amenable to healthcare only considers populations aged 0 to 74.


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