Brazil’s mortality rates since 2003

. May 27, 2020
deaths in brazil

Brazil is unequal even in death. In the last 16 years, civil registry records compiled by the Brazilian Institute of Geography and Statistics (IBGE) and analyzed by The Brazilian Report show how different regions, types, and sizes of cities have seen variations in causes of human death. 

On average, Brazil’s overall mortality rate grew from 5.6 to 6.1 deaths per 1,000 inhabitants between 2003 and 2018. This can largely be put down to the fact that the Brazilian population is aging, impacting directly on the denominator of death rates. However, changes in the economy and regional dynamics can also have an impact.

This report instantly becomes a historical document that will allow us to measure the impact of the Covid-19 crisis in the near future, from both a health and economic perspective, once 2020 data is available.

</p> <figure class="wp-block-image size-large"><img src="" alt="mortality-brazil" class="wp-image-40703"/></figure> <p>In 2003, the highest death rate was found in the populous Southeast region, but it has since been overtaken by the South. Besides an increased average age, the region&#8217;s biggest city Porto Alegre has seen significant surges in violent crime in recent years, and the wider availability of cars has increased the number of deaths in vehicular collisions.&nbsp;</p> <p>Meanwhile, when we look at the green line at the bottom of the chart, we see Brazil&#8217;s North region, where recorded death rates per capita are far lower than in the rest of the country.. Part of this is due to underreporting. The data only covers deaths recorded in notary offices, but in some parts of Brazil&#8217;s North, the nearest registry may only be accessible by long boat rides through the Amazon Basin.&nbsp;</p> <p>Demographers in Brazil have a long tradition of studying the underreporting of deaths and births in Brazil. In 2018, when the latest complete IBGE dataset was recorded, the underreporting of deaths was estimated to be at 4.1 percent, <a href=",811420/registros-de-obitos-aumentam-21-nos-ultimos-dez-anos-aponta-ibge.shtml">the lowest rate in ten years</a>, according to newspaper Correio Braziliense.&nbsp;</p> <p>Smaller cities with populations of less than 10,000 saw nearly two extra deaths for every 1,000 inhabitants. These locations make up 44 percent of all Brazilian municipalities.</p> <div class="wp-block-image"><figure class="aligncenter size-large"><img src="" alt="decreases mortality rates" class="wp-image-40657" srcset=" 521w, 153w, 768w, 782w, 1043w, 610w, 1189w" sizes="(max-width: 521px) 100vw, 521px" /></figure></div> <div class="wp-block-image"><figure class="aligncenter size-large"><img src="" alt="increases mortality brazil" class="wp-image-40666" srcset=" 521w, 153w, 768w, 781w, 1042w, 610w, 1188w" sizes="(max-width: 521px) 100vw, 521px" /></figure></div> <p>While coastal cities have the highest death rates in Brazil, these municipalities include a dozen of the country&#8217;s state capitals, including Rio de Janeiro — now notorious for its gang violence — and Fortaleza, where insurgent police officers shot a senator earlier this year.&nbsp;</p> <p>The sharpest increases are found in border areas — largely connected to the trafficking of drugs and firearms through Paraguay, Bolivia, and Peru — and the semi-arid backlands of the Northeast known as the Sertão, where social programs throughout the last two decades have seen reporting improve.</p> <div class="wp-block-image"><figure class="aligncenter size-large"><img src="" alt="death rates brazil southeast" class="wp-image-40705"/></figure></div> <div class="wp-block-image"><figure class="aligncenter size-large"><img src="" alt="death rates brazil northeast" class="wp-image-40706"/></figure></div> <div class="wp-block-image"><figure class="aligncenter size-large"><img src="" alt="death rates brazil south" class="wp-image-40707"/></figure></div> <div class="wp-block-image"><figure class="aligncenter size-large"><img src="" alt="death rates brazil center west" class="wp-image-40708"/></figure></div> <div class="wp-block-image"><figure class="aligncenter size-large"><img src="" alt="death rates brazil north" class="wp-image-40709"/></figure></div> <h2>Causes of death</h2> <p>DataSUS, the public health database which records causes of death in the country, includes some important clues on emerging mortality trends in Brazil. The rate of deaths by infectious diseases has doubled between 2008 and 2019, from 235 to 468 per million Brazilians. In 2019, sepsis killed more than pneumonia, for the first time in the time series.&nbsp;</p> <p>Deaths by external causes — including car crashes, falls, and violence — grew until 2014, but then remained stable. The death rate by cancer has grown by half, potentially due to improved early detection of tumors.</p> <hr class="wp-block-separator"/> <figure class="wp-block-image size-large"><img src="" alt="cause of deaths brazil" class="wp-image-40667" srcset=" 707w, 207w, 768w, 1061w, 610w, 1189w" sizes="(max-width: 707px) 100vw, 707px" /></figure> <hr class="wp-block-separator"/> <p>Next year, when the 2020 data will be available, one additional cause of death will emerge — <a href="">Covid-19</a>.</p> <p class="has-text-align-center"><em>Data and text: Marcelo Soares. Charts: Rodolfo Almeida.</em></p> <p>

Marcelo Soares

Marcelo Soares is a Brazilian journalist specializing in data journalism and reader engagement.

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