Mortality, causes of death

The mortality statistics survey the number of deaths, the cause of death statistics survey the causes behind these (see "specific causes of death"). Following a long stable phase, the number of deaths has increased again since the mid 2000s. In contrast, the standardised mortality rate continues to fall and has more than halved since 1970.



Number of deaths

Standardised mortality rate1







32 398

34 690




32 406

34 565

513 349

31 283

 33 681

  508   352


32 646

34 960




30 950

32 988




31 257

33 704



1 Standardised mortality rate by age per 100,000 inhabitants Source: BEVNAT, CoD

Continuous registration of deaths

Since week 43 (starting 19 October 2020) the number of deaths at national level among people aged 65 or over have exceeded the long-term expected average. From the moment that the excess mortality of the second wave of the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic was detected, up until week 1 2021, 51% more deaths were observed in this age group than would be expected. So far, the week with the highest excess mortality in the second wave was week 47: Between 16 and 22 November 2020, 68% more people aged over 65 died than would have been expected.

In week 50 (7-13.12.2020) 45 more deaths than expected were observed among under 65 year-olds (28%). Altogether (from week 43 2020 to week 1 2021) 132 or 7% more deaths were counted in the under-65 age group than expected.

In the first wave of the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic, statistically significant excess mortality was observed from 16.3.2020 (week 12) to 19.4.2020 (week 16). During those weeks, 1504 more people than expected died in the over-65 age group (26.1%) and in the under-65 age group, 99 (12%) more people than expected. The week with the highest excess mortality in the first wave was week 14: Between 30 March and 5 April, 46% more people over 65 died than expected.

Excess mortality was not the same throughout Switzerland’s regions, see here. Please take into account the remark on methodology below. As the number of deaths in 2020 was extraordinarily high, the calculation of excess mortality in 2021 continues to be based on the expected number of deaths calculated for 2020.

Methodology: Deaths are reported to the competent civil registry office and recorded in a central database. Assuming a constant reporting flow, the FSO estimates the number of cases. The number of deaths normally expected is calculated on the basis of the development of case numbers in each age group over the previous five years. The seasonal distribution of deaths over the 52 weeks of the year is calculated on the basis of the median of each calendar week of the past ten years. Finally, a range is calculated for each expected value within which fluctuations must be considered random. The calculation of the expected number of deaths thus does not simply correspond to an average value, but takes into account the change in the population from year to year as well as random fluctuations.

In mortality monitoring, the "observed" figures can thus be compared with the "expected" figures. The FSO has been publishing these figures weekly since 11 May 2015. The monitoring covers all persons resident in Switzerland who have died in Switzerland.

The annual case numbers on influenza reported in the cause of death statistics of previous years are not suitable and not comparable for monitoring acute infectious diseases. In the cause of death statistics, a single diagnosis of the disease that led to death must be selected for each death. According to the rules of the World Health Organization, this is the underlying disease that was at the beginning of the course of the disease and not the last event that finally led to death. Even in the case of multiple illnesses, the tables published worldwide on the causes of death include only one underlying disease.

Additional information

Number of deaths and mortality rates

For three decades, the annual number of deaths was around 60,000. In recent years, it has increased. In 2012, for the first time over 64,000 deaths were recorded. Whereas the number of deaths of persons aged under 80 is decreasing, the trend is the opposite for persons aged over 80. This can be explained by the increasing number of elderly persons. A continuous decline in the standardised mortality rates by age can be observed with exceptions in the years 1990 and 2015.

Further information



Press Releases

Statistical sources and concepts

On this topic

Specific causes of death

Leading causes of death by age and sex; premature mortality and potential years of life lost

Infant mortality, stillbirths

Trends in the infant mortality rate and the stillbirth rate


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