The term mortality refers to what has to die or is subject to death, the opposite of life. In the demographic area, it is the relationship that exists between the number of deaths that occurred during a certain time, usually one year, and the total population of any geographic entity, that is, the mortality rate. The phenomenon is expressed through the death rate or index, which can be defined as the number of deaths per thousand inhabitants in relation to the total population over an established period.

What is mortality

As mentioned previously, the term can be interpreted as the condition that living beings have in which their true end is death, but it can also be defined as a mortality rate, that is, it refers to all those deaths produced in a certain territory under various periods of time.

According to the World Health Organization, the term makes direct reference to the number and causes of death that have occurred in a place at a specific time, but it also classifies it in two ways.

The first is death from endogenous situations, that is, those that have been the product or result of genetic, congenital conditions, autoimmune diseases or aging. The second has to do with exogenous causes, that is, those that are connected to factors external to the person, for example, infections, parasites, violence, accidents or starvation, making it clear that mortality and morbidity go hand in hand.

Etymologically speaking, the term comes from the Latin mortalitas atis, which is related to the act of dying. Mortis also comes, which means death.

Mortality rate

In a more specific way, the death rate is an indicator that shows the proportion of dead people in a population, normally this is a study that is done from country to country and the period of time considered is twelve months, that is say, a year.

To calculate it, it is necessary to count the number of deaths that occurred in a population during a year, divide it by the total population and multiply the result by 1000.

Its basic purpose is to show a kind of comparison in which the number of deaths per thousand inhabitants of said locality is reflected and, in this way, the number of dead people can be known.

This is a number that is expressed as a percentage (so much per thousand, ‰), to indicate an approximate about the situation of deaths in a country and thus be able to keep track and at the same time determine what are the causes of deaths in that area and indicate which is the one with the highest number in your counter, for example it is revealed if people die from natural causes, accidents or if it is from homicides.

Crude mortality rate

Mortality - Mortality rate

It is the one explained above, which includes all the dead people in a year in a country. For example, the mortality rate in Mexico for the year 2017 was 6.01% of deaths per thousand citizens.

Specific mortality rate

It refers to the number of individuals who die from a certain cause, which indicates that there is a specific death rate for cancer deaths, one for diabetes, another for heart attacks, accidents, maternal mortality, homicides and so on. This type of index can also be shown by ages at which people die, in the same way, it is also carried out by year and country. The mortality rate in Mexico in 2017 due to cancer was 442.4 per 100,000 inhabitants.

Child mortality

It is a demographic variable of birth and mortality that indicates the number of children under one year of age who died over a given period of time.

In general, this is expressed as a rate or index, and it is the one that gives the proportion between the number of children under one year of age who died in the course of a year and the number of live births during the same year. It is expressed as a percentage or as much per thousand, and is grouped by age or months of birth, sex, locality or country, or social group.

Early neonatal

It covers from birth to the first week of life.


It focuses on babies only up to the first month of life.


From birth to one year of age. Although the infant rate is measured on children under 1 year, it has also sometimes been measured on children under 5 or 9 years old, this category that includes children older than one year is called infant.

Mortality in the world

Today the death rates are high in countries with fewer resources (more diseases, weak sanitary structure, poor hygiene, poor diet), and are minimal in developed countries (greater technological possibilities and greater social well-being).

Infant death in developed countries is usually very low; in 2008, it was 6.2% in the US and 3.9% in Germany.

On the other hand, underdeveloped countries continue to present very high rates, as in the cases of Haiti with 60%, Bolivia with 45%, and the vast majority of African countries, where it exceeds 100 per thousand; for example, Niger with 116.6% and Angola with 180% (registered as the worst in the world).

The countries with the highest death rate are Lesotho, Venezuela, Mexico (with percentages in the mortality rate), Argentina, Italy, Bulgaria, Hungary, Puerto Rico and Cuba.

Frequently Asked Questions about Mortality

What is mortality of a population?

It is the index of people who died in a given place over a period of one year.

How is mortality calculated?

Through the specific rate, in which they are divided by age, sex, disease or cause of death.

What is the minimum mortality?

It is that represented by a number of inhabitants of a population that has died from ideal causes, that is, from senescence.

What is the difference between morbidity and mortality?

Mortality is death itself, morbidity is the number of patients in a given year.

What is the country with the highest death rate?

Lesotho with 15.39% per thousand inhabitants.