Changing patterns of mortality

(Apr 28, 2017)

In an earlier post we introduced the idea of the so-called curve of deaths, which is simply the distribution of age at death.  This is intimately bound up with survival models and the idea of future lifetime as a random variable.

The development of the distribution of deaths by age can reveal a lot about a population.  Animation 1 shows the development of the distribution of deaths for males in England and Wales since 1961.  It shows the very welcome fall in infant mortality on the left, but it also shows the steady rightward drift in the distribution at older ages.

Animation 1. Male deaths by age in England and Wales since 1961.  Click on the chart to restart the animation.

ONS deaths by age for males in England and Wales since 1961

Animation 1 shows how the modal age at death drifts…

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Tags: 1919, curve of deaths

Influenza and coronary heart disease

(Aug 31, 2008)

 Every good statistician knows that correlation does not imply causation.  Just because two things appear linked does not mean they are. However, with historical data we often don't have the luxury of carrying out controlled, scientific experiments to see if A really does cause B.

One particularly interesting example is the possible link between influenza and coronary heart-disease (CHD) mortality. The following chart is derived from data from the Massachusetts Department of Public Health Registry of Vital Records and Statistics, and is inspired by a similar chart by Azambuja and Levins (2007):

Dramatic increase in CHD mortality following Spanish Flu pandemic of 1918-1919

While we know that correlation does not imply causation, there does seem to be a rising incidence of CHD along…

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Tags: influenza, CHD, mortality projections, Spanish influenza pandemic, 1919, ICA, stress test, cause of death

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