STATCAST – Week of June 10, 2019

Estimated 2018 Death Rates for Several Leading Causes Of Death Released


The National Vital Statistics Rapid Release program was established by NCHS in August of 2015 in response to the need for more timely vital statistics on major causes of death in the United States as well as specific birth measures and infant mortality. While final numbers aren’t available until a year or so after occurrence, this initiative provides preliminary or provisional numbers on a quarterly basis with only a six-month lag period in many cases.

Provisional estimates are based on a snapshot of all the vital statistics data received and processed by NCHS as of a specified cutoff date. NCHS makes statistical adjustments for any incompleteness in these data. The result is that provisional estimates closely match the final data, but are subject to revision in future quarterly releases as additional records for that quarter are received.  Additionally, around 5% of death records submitted to NCHS are initially received with the cause of death pending an investigation, most of which are deaths due to external causes such as accidents, suicides, homicides and drug overdoses. As a result, provisional estimates for some external causes of death are not available for the most recent quarter or quarters, but are available in future releases as updates are received and the reliability of the estimates improves.

This week NCHS released quarterly data based on the 12 months ending in December of 2018, so it represents the first full-year death estimates of data for 2018. The provisional mortality rate for the country was lower in 2018 than in 2017. In fact, rates for most of the leading causes of death were lower or did not change in 2018 compared with 2017. The exceptions were for suicide, Parkinson’s disease, influenza & pneumonia, and falls for those age 65 and older. Mortality rates for these causes were all higher in 2018 than in 2017.