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Press Statement


30 April 2021

Measuring Mortality Using Public Data Sources 2019 - 2021

Website provides close to 'real time' indication of mortality trends in Ireland
  • Pronounced increases in the number of death notices observed in April 2020 (3,504 notices), January 2021 (3,919 notices) and February 2021 (3,147 notices)
  • Analysis of death notices for the period March 2020 - February 2021 provides a range of between 2,034 and 2,338 excess deaths
  • As with April 2020 there were significant increases in death notices which mentioned older persons' facilities as the place of death in January and February 2021
  • The number of death notices related to older persons’ facilities was 1,000 in January and 737 in February compared with 525 in December 2020
  • An increase in the number of death notices related to hospitals was also observed, which peaked at 1,241 in January 2021

Go to release: Measuring Mortality Using Public Data Sources 2019-2021

The Central Statistics Office (CSO) has today (30 April 2021) published an update to the experimental analysis on Measuring Mortality Using Public Data Sources. The release looks at the period from March 2020 up to 31 March 2021 using death notices placed on the website to monitor trends in mortality in Ireland.

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 Our Publishing Formats

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. Death notices as far back as 01 October 2019 were analysed, to include the last month before the first global cases of COVID-19 were notified. The analysis has now been updated to the end of March 2021. 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'. We found that 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 registrations of deaths in the State.

The analysis conducted for October 2019 to March 2021 shows some important trends. Most notable are the increases in death notices in April 2020 and in January and February 2021 which stands in contrast to recent years. Numbers of deaths notices increased to 3,504 in April 2020 from 2,864 in March 2020. In comparison, the average number of deaths for April for the years 2014-2018 was approximately 2,500, according to CSO published deaths by month of occurrence. A total of 3,919 death notices were recorded in January and 3,147 in February of this year. By contrast, the average number of deaths was just under 3,200 for January and just over 2,700 for February for the years 2014-2018 (again as per CSO published deaths by month of occurrence).

We conducted further analysis of death notices to provide estimates for excess mortality. This assumes that, in the absence of COVID-19 deaths, mortality would have followed a trajectory similar to previous years. Analysis of more than 30,000 death notices for the period March 2020 - February 2021 provides a range of estimates for excess mortality between 2,034 and 2,338.

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

Editor's Note:

What is Excess Mortality and how is it measured in this report?

Excess mortality measures the number of deaths over and above what would be expected under normal circumstances. Expected deaths are measured by calculating the average number of deaths for the same period in previous years. To calculate excess mortality we compare the deaths (or in this case death notices) in one period with the average of previous periods. In that sense excess mortality is an estimate. It should also be noted that the calculation of mortality, including excess mortality, is based on deaths that occur in the Republic of Ireland. includes some deaths that occur in Northern Ireland and therefore these are removed.

In this release we look at a range of expected deaths (between one and three years prior) based on death notices published on In some studies, calculations of excess mortality look at an average of a greater number of years (e.g. a five year or 10-year average). Before 2017, the coverage of deaths on was not as comprehensive as in recent years and we observe that usage of steadily decreases as one moves backward in time. For this reason, if we were to use the data before 2017, it would increase the estimate of excess mortality for 2020/2021.

For further information contact:

John Flanagan (+353) 1 498 4054

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