24 February 2022
The Central Statistics Office (CSO) has today (24 February 2022) published an update to the experimental analysis on Measuring Mortality Using Public Data Sources. The release looks at the period from October 2019 up to the end of December 2021 using death notices placed on the website www.RIP.ie 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 see Editor’s Note below.
Commenting on the results, Statistician, Rob Kelly, said: "Since the end of March 2020, the CSO has been using the website RIP.ie 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 end of December 2021 providing two full calendar years for analysis (2020 and 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 for the registrations of deaths in the State is three months.
The analysis conducted for October 2019 to December 2021 shows some important trends. Most notable are the increases in death notices in April 2020 and in January and February 2021 when compared to recent years. The number of death notices increased to 3,528 in April 2020 from 2,881 in March 2020. In comparison, the average number of deaths for April for the years 2016 - 2019 was 2,536, according to official month of occurrence mortality statistics as measured by the CSO. A total of 3,965 and 3,178 death notices were recorded in January and February 2021 respectively while the average number of deaths was 3,286 for January and 2,685 for February for the years 2016-2019 (again according to official month of occurrence mortality statistics).
The CSO 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 been similar to the average as measured over previous years (2016 to 2019). Analysis of more than 75,000 death notices for the period January 2020 - December 2021 provides an estimate for excess mortality of 3,533.
The CSO is grateful to RIP.ie for the use of their website."
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. In this release, the average number of deaths were calculated over the four-year period 2016 to 2019. To calculate excess mortality, we compare the deaths (or in this case death notices) in one period with the average of those previous periods. In that sense excess mortality is an estimate.
Classification of location of death.
For the first three releases in this series, classification of location of death was undertaken by a team who read every individual notice and manually classified the death notice as referring to a death in Republic of Ireland, Northern Ireland or elsewhere abroad. For this release a new method of classification was developed by a CSO statistician using a machine learning classification model. See Methodological Notes
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 https://www.cso.ie/en/methods/ourpublishingformats/
Rob Kelly (+353) 1 498 5000
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