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Press Statement


02 November 2020

Measuring Mortality Using Public Data Sources 2019-2020

Continued analysis shows death notices on the website provide close to 'real time' mortality trends in Ireland
  • The number of death notices observed for September 2020 stands at 2,353 which is broadly in line with previous years' mortality statistics
  • This contrasts with the pronounced increase in death notices placed in April 2020, when the number of death notices rose from 2,861 in March to 3,502 in April
  • Based on the analysis of thousands of death notices, excess mortality for the period March to September 2020 is estimated at between 876 and 1,192 (i.e. deaths above those likely to be experienced under normal circumstances)
  • Further analysis of previous years' death notices in this updated release provided a means to estimate a range for excess mortality based on previous one year, two year and three year average comparisons
  • Death notices show an increase in mentions of ‘home’ as the place of death, rising from 16.1% in October 2019 to 25.8% in September 2020

Go to release: Measuring Mortality Using Public Data Sources 2019-2020

The Central Statistics Office (CSO) has today (02 November 2020) published an update to the experimental analysis on Measuring Mortality Using Public Data Sources 2019-2020. The release uses the website to monitor trends in mortality in Ireland.

Commenting on the results, Statistician, John Flanagan, said: 'Since the end of March 2020, the CSO has been using the website to keep track of death notices. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, we began to explore experimental ways of obtaining up-to-date mortality data. Analysis of death notices was conducted as far back as 01 October 2019, to include the last month before the first global cases of COVID-19 were notified and this update includes data to the end of September 2020. The Death Events Publishing Service (DEPS) of the General Register Office (GRO) has been monitored in tandem, to validate the volumes of death notices published.

Due to the Irish custom of holding funerals within two to three days following death, these notices are usually placed in a fast and efficient manner, providing a valuable crowd-sourced means of tracking deaths. The notices are placed close to 'real time', given that we found the average length of time between date of death and publication is about 1.1 days. In comparison, the statutory time limit is three months for the registration of deaths in the State.

The original analysis, published in July 2020, covered the period October 2019 to June 2020 and this update includes data to the end of September 2020, providing analysis of 12 months of death notices published on Most notable is the increase in death notices in April which stands in contrast with previous years. Numbers of deaths notices increased to 3,502 in April from 2,861 in March. In comparison, the average number of deaths for April for the years 2013-2017 was approximately 2,500. Death notices for September stand at 2,353.

Based on the analysis of death notices, excess mortality for the period March to September 2020 is estimated to be between 876 and 1,192. This assumes that, in the absence of COVID-19 deaths, mortality would have followed a similar trajectory to previous years. This estimate is based on experimental data, using excess death notices as a proxy for excess mortality. The range is calculated by comparing death notices for the months of March to September 2020 against death notices for the same months in the previous year, and against an average of the same period in the previous two years and previous three years. In that sense this analysis can only give an indication of excess mortality at a point in time and official statistics for the full year of 2020 would provide a more definitive picture of excess mortality.

The death notices also provide useful information on gender and place of death, especially nursing homes, at such a critical time. Information on place of death shows increases in death notices mentioning ‘home’ as the place of death, rising from 16.1% in October 2019 to 25.8% in September 2020. Mentions of HIQA registered older person’s facilities have declined from a high of 1,237 in April 2020 to 457 in September 2020.

The CSO is grateful to for the use of their website.

Editor's Note:

This publication is categorised as a CSO Frontier Series Publication. CSO Frontier Series may use new methods which are under development and / or data sources which may be incomplete, for example new administrative data sources. For further information see

For further information contact:

John Flanagan (+353) 1 498 4054 or Anne O'Brien (+353) 1 498 4033

or email

or email

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