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.

Mortality

Year

Number of deaths

Standardised mortality rate1

 

Men

Women

Men

Women

2018

32 398

34 690

492

344

2017

32 406

34 565

513 349
2016

31 283

 33 681

  508   352

2015

32 646

34 960

  547

  367

2014

30 950

32 988

534

356

2013

31 257

33 704

555

371

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

Continuous registration of deaths

From week 17/2021 (from 2.5.2021), the weekly numbers of deaths among the population aged 65 or over has been within the expected range. During the period after the second wave of deaths due to Covid-19, from week 7/2021 (from 15.2.2021) to week 13/2021, a death count was reported that is normally only seen in the summer, the period with the lowest seasonal mortality. Compared with the expected figure, around 1010 fewer persons died in these seven weeks. This might be related to the fact that of the approx. 10 300 persons who died during the first and second wave of excess mortality due to Covid-19, some were also nearing the end of their lives irrespective of Covid-19 and had probably lost only a few weeks or months of their lives due to Covid-19. A total tally of deaths due to Covid-19 will only be possible after the end of the epidemic in Switzerland.

In the first wave of the SARS-CoV-2 epidemic, excess mortality was observed from 16.3.2020 (week 12) to 19.4.2020 (week 16). During those weeks, 1510 more people than expected died in the age group 65 and above (26%) and in the under-65 age group, 100 (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 aged 65 and above died than expected.

In the second wave of the SARS-CoV-2 epidemic, another period of excess mortality was observed from 19.10.2020 (week 43) to 31.1.2021 (week 4). During these weeks, 8440 more people than expected (47%) died in the age group 65 and above and about 250 more people (10%) than expected died in the under-65 age group. In the weeks 46 to 51 (9.11.-20.12.), between 165% and 170% of the expected deaths were counted in the age group 65 and above.

The evolution of 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

Graphs

Publications

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

Contact

Federal Statistical Office Sections Health Services, Population Health
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CH-2010 Neuchâtel
Switzerland
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