Telegraph suggests 9% of England dies each year

28 June 2021
What was claimed

Just 748.6 people per 100,000 died in England in May.

Our verdict

False. If May’s death rate was replicated over the course of a year, then 748.6 people per 100,000 would die. But about a twelfth as many people died in May alone.

“Just 748.6 people per 100,000 died last month, after mortality rates fell even lower than April, when 851.2 people per 100,000 died – the lowest it had been since records began in 2001.”

An article in the Daily Telegraph on the latest death statistics has claimed that “just 748.6 people per 100,000” people in England died in May and contrasted that to April when it claims 851.2 people per 100,000 died.

This is not right. These statistics are annualised average figures, not monthly figures.  This means that if May’s death rate applied across the whole year, there would be 748.6 deaths per 100,000 people over the course of the year. But it is wrong to say that this proportion of people who did die during that month. 

If 748.6 people per 100,000 died each month, on average, then around 9% of the country would die every year.  

In reality, about 1% of the population of England dies each year.

The Office for National Statistics, which publishes these statistics, is not particularly clear on the fact that this is the annual death rate in May, not the actual number of deaths in May.

Its monthly mortality analysis says deaths fell “to a low of 748.6 deaths per 100,000 people in May 2021”. Although it does say later: “monthly rates in this bulletin are adjusted to allow for comparisons with annual rates”.

The provisional figures show 35,401 deaths were registered in England in May, while the latest population figures show 56.5 million people live in England, so about 63 per 100,000.

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