Mortality rates (synonym: death rates) are used to quantify the tendency to die in a population during a given time period. Since death can be considered as the utmost form of “unhealthiness” or “disease,” mortality rates are major (inverse) health indicators. Because measuring morbidity is often difficult, mortality rates or mortality-based indicators like life expectancy remain the major indicators used to ascertain the level of health in a society or social group.

Mortality rates always refer to a time period, usually 1 year, though monthly or even daily mortality rates are sometimes calculated for particular situations or processes—a war, epidemics, and so on. The annual crude death rate (m) can be thought as the proportion of the population dying during 1 year—presently not much above or ...

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