More elderly died in winter period

03/06/2015 15:00

Statistics Netherlands (CBS) reported today that during the last winter period, mortality was higher than in the winter of 2013/’14. Mortality among over-80s was distinctly higher, also in comparison to previous winters.

Mortality higher despite mild winter

During the past winter period, more than 67 thousand persons died, i.e. an increase by 9 thousand relative to the winter of 2013/’14. The mortality rate was particularly high among older people: the rate among over-80s was 21 percent up from last year.

Research shows that when temperatures are very low, the number of deaths will increase significantly. The correlation between temperature and mortality is more obvious in the older population. Mortality between two successive winter periods may indeed vary considerably, especially in the older population.

In the fairly cold winter of 2012/’13, mortality was relatively high. In the following year, mortality was significantly lower due to the extremely mild, sunny and dry winter period. Last winter, mild periods alternated with cold periods, but - on the whole - the winter period of 2014/’15 was mild, wet and sunny. Surprisingly, mortality in the older population was higher than last year, but also higher than in the cold winter of 2012/’13. The high mortality occurred simultaneously with a flu outbreak, which lasted for an uninterrupted period of 21 weeks, the longest flu epidemic since monitoring started in 1970.

Mortality people aged 80 yrs and older (December-April)

Higher mortality not only caused by ageing of the population

Overall, mortality is declining: life expectancy has increased in recent years. On the other hand, the growing number of elderly in the Netherlands is likely to increase mortality. The effects of age can be eliminated by monitoring mortality per one thousand residents in a particular age category. If ageing of the population is not taken into account, mortality among older people was also higher during the past winter period.

Mortality per thousand 80 to 89-year-olds in the winter of 2014/’15 was above the average over the past five years. Among over-90s, the rate was even higher than the average over the past decade and 21 percent up from the winter of 2013/’14, when mortality among over-90s was extremely low.

Among 60 to 79-year-olds, mortality per one thousand residents was about the same as in the most recent winters. In the population under 60, mortality was below the level recorded in recent years.

Mortality in winter (December-April)