Christopher Ruhm Summarizes the COVID-19 Pandemic’s Impact on US Mortality
It is widely accepted that the COVID-19 pandemic raised death rates in the United States in 2020, but quantifying pandemic-related "excess deaths" Is difficult. There are two challenges: estimating how many deaths would have taken place in the absence of the pandemic, and recognizing that some deaths from causes other than COVID are COVID-related. For example, if the pandemic made some individuals reluctant to access medical care, it may have raised the number of deaths from non-COVID causes. In a new study (29503), NBER Research Associate Christopher Ruhm of the University of Virginia develops new estimates of the aggregate number of excess deaths, as well as various group-specific estimates, during the first year of the pandemic. He estimates that there were 646,514 excess deaths, 83.4 percent of which can be directly attributed to COVID-19. Most excess deaths among older groups were directly attributable to COVID-19, but for individuals under 45 more than two thirds of the deaths were from other causes. Ruhm summarizes the study's findings in the video above. An archive of NBER videos on pandemic-related research may be found here.