Data insight

Wild shifts in the global mortality distribution

The rich-country share in measured mortality has recently quintupled

As the chart below illustrates, we have seen massive changes in the global mortality distribution since the beginning of 2021. On January 8, the share of high-income countries (the non-developing world) reached a maximum of 60%. Between January 8 and July 20, it plunged to 6% – a tenth of its value earlier this year!

This was mirrored in a shift of mortality to the developing world. Upper-middle-income countries (UMICs) saw the share rise considerably (from 29% to 56%), but the greatest increase was for the lower-middle-income countries (LMICs): from 7% to 36%. This was driven by India. For low-income countries (LICs), the share in reported mortality went up appreciably from close to 0% to 2% but remained low overall. 

Since July 20, however, mortality dynamics started to shift again. The spread of delta meant that the high-income share went up again considerably. For the most recent developments, see the chart below.