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Death Rate

What Is It?

Death rate, also called mortality rate, is the number of deaths within a population and period of time, usually one year. It is often called the "crude death rate," as it applies to the entire population rather than to a subset thereof.

How Is It Calculated?

A country’s death rate is determined by the number of deaths within the population divided by the total population. The resulting number is often multiplied by 1,000 and shown in percentages.

What Does It Mean?

Death rate is one determinant of a country’s population growth, along with birth rate. Countries with a lower birth rate often have a higher death rate due to a larger percentage of the population being of advanced age.

  • A declining death rate is typically the result of advances in healthcare and nutrition. Medical advancements have decreased mortality for a number of once-fatal diseases and conditions, and social and environmental improvements have reduced the number of deaths from causes such as malnutrition and pollution. The result has been global reductions in infant mortality and increases in life expectancy. Currently, a declining death rate is more responsible for Earth's increasing population than birth rate. 
  • A rising death rate suggests a population is confronting issues of poverty, including inadequate healthcare and nutrition, which leads to increased infant mortality and decreased adult lifespan.