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What is Mortality?

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Mortality is defined as being mortal or being susceptible to death. The opposite of mortality is immortality. Mortality definition is the frequency of death in a given population. Out of the many other components of demography such as demographic size, geographical distribution and composition, etc. Mortality definition is used as a factor of change in demographic. Mortality as one of the components of demography is measured as mortality rate. In simple terms, the rate of mortality definition states the death rate in a particularly given region which brings changes in the demographics of that particular region. Hence, it is an important concept in the study of population. 

What is the Meaning of Mortality Rate?

Mortality meaning provides the basis for mortality rate and its estimation. Mortality is the possibility of and susceptibility to death, and hence, the rate of mortality or the death rate is the measurement of the number of deaths that occur in a particular population, scaled to the size of that population per unit of time. Globally, this rate is taken as the measurement of the number of deaths per 1000 people per year. So, when the mortality rate is described as 11.5, it means that in total 11.5 people have died per 1000 people in a given area for a given population. In percentage, it is expressed as 1.15% of the total population. 

This concept is not to be confused with morbidity. Morbidity is either the prevalence or incidence of a disease. Hence, the morbidity rate is the rate of disease in a population. Morbidity and mortality meaning is thus different in the sense that morbidity is the condition of the prevalence of disease and mortality is the condition of death. For example, during the COVID-19 pandemic, the morbidity rate increases with the spread of the disease amongst the population. And the mortality rate is obtained with the increasing incidences of death whatever the cause may be. So, even though during the pandemic, the morbidity rate can be higher or lower or similar to the mortality rate but only in numbers. But they are both different. The morbidity rate is the prevalence of a specific disease and hence varies depending upon the disease but the mortality rate is the rate of death and is irrespective of the cause. Various causes can affect the rate of mortality. Some more specific mortality rates that affect population demographic over a period of time are Perinatal mortality rate, Maternal mortality rate, Infant mortality rate, child mortality rate, standardized mortality rate, age-specific mortality rate, infection fatality rate, etc. 

Statistics of Mortality

There are various causes of mortality. The causes of death influencing the components of demography differ greatly between the developed and less developed countries. According to Jean Ziegler, who was a United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food for 2000 to March 2008, stated that mortality is caused mainly due to malnutrition. The causes of death because of malnutrition accounted for 58% of the total mortality in the year 2006. Another cause of death is age-related death. Of approximately 1,50,000 people that die each day worldwide, almost two-thirds i.e. 1,00,000 per day die because of age-related issues. In industrialized nations, this proportion is much higher and reaches almost 90%. 

Relationship Between Mortality and Economics

A significant relationship between mortality and economics exists and is determined by scholars. When there is a low standard of living because of low incomes the mortality rate increases. This is because a low standard of living results in malnutrition which is already identified as one of the significant causes that give rise to conditions resulting in death as mentioned in the mortality meaning. There is a lack of hygiene and sanitation, an increase in exposure to and spread of disease, and a lack of proper medical care and facilities that comes with a low standard of living. This leads to a cycle as poor health leads to an increase in treatment cost that further aggravates the low living standards and becomes a strain on low-income households thus further leading to low living standards and decreased hygiene and health conditions. This is known as the health poverty trap. According to Indian economist and Nobel prize winner, Amartya Sen states that mortality rates are one of the possible indicators of economic success and failure. 

Another important factor that can influence the mortality rates adversely is the short term price increase. Scientific studies have shown that with an increase in food prices, there is an increase in the rate of mortality. Such effects are shown to have a high impact on vulnerable and low-income populations as compared to the population with higher income and living standards. With respect to the nations of the world, it is found that the national income of a country which is also an indicator of the standard of living of that country is one of the largest factors contributing to mortality rates. The mortality rates are found to be higher in countries with low national income as compared to countries with high national income. These factors in turn direct the demographic environment of a country. The demographic environment meaning, the population factors such as age distributions, births deaths, sex, education, etc. which determine the standard of living of a country are thus greatly influenced by mortality. 

These economic factors affect gravely the living conditions of children below the age of five years. It is found that in low-income countries, there is a higher risk of children dying from malaria, diarrhoea, respiratory infections, etc. which are easily preventable in high-income countries. Hence, this in turn affects the overall demographics of the nation. Hence, there is a visible and factual correlation between mortality and economic growth. 


Mortality which is defined as the condition of being dead is an important parameter to assess the growth and development of a given society and a nation. The causes that affect mortality rate are best indicators of prevailing conditions of human health and life from poor countries to the rich. Thus, mortality is an important concept to understand a given country and its demographic environment.

FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions)

1. What Do You Mean By Mortality?

Ans: Mortality is the condition of being susceptible to death. Medically mortality is referred to as death. It is an important concept that when determined in numbers give a factor known as mortality rate. The mortality rate is helpful in determining the causes that cause mortality or death in a given population. 

2. What are Mortality and Morbidity?

Ans: Mortality is the number of deaths that occur in a given population. Thus, mortality is the condition of being susceptible to death. On the other hand, morbidity is the state of being unhealthy because of a particular disease or situation. Thus, mortality is the condition of possibility of death and morbidity is the condition of the prevalence of a disease.