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Vital Statistics

Death records increase by 14.9% in the first year of the pandemic and hit highest level in the series

Section: Social Statistics | Cristiane Crelier | Design: Brisa Gil

November 18, 2021 10h00 AM | Last Updated: November 20, 2021 08h38 PM

  • At a glance

  • In 2020, a year marked by the start of the Covid-19 pandemic in Brazil, the number of deaths in the country increased by 14.9% against 2019, biggest change since 1984.
  • The number of deaths recorded in Brazil went from 1,314,103 in 2019 to 1,510,068 in 2020, which means about 196 thousand more deaths than last year,
  • The increase of deaths was bigger among men (16.7%) than women (12.7%).
  • The change was bigger in the group aged 60 and over. For persons below 15 years of age, there was a significant decrease in the number of deaths against the previous year.
  • And 99.2% of the change was observed among deaths due to natural causes, which includes those resulting from Covid-19.
  • On the other hand, the number of births recorded a decrease of 4.7% from 2019 to 2020.
  • And more women have postponed motherhood. In 2020, for the first time, the number of birth records generated by mothers aged 20 to 29 was below half (48.7%).
  • The number of marriage records in Brazil recorded a decrease of 26.1% between 2019 and 2020, from 1,024,676 to 757,179.
Annual change of deaths went from an average of 1.8% a year to 14.9% influenced by Covid. - Photo: Helena Pontes/IBGE News Agency

The year 2020, which marks the start of the Covid-19 pandemic in Brazil, had a total 196 thousand more deaths than 2019. The change, of 14.9%, was the biggest since 1984, according to civ records in civil registry offices. Births and marriages have remained on an upward trend as observed in the last few years, but marriages declined far beyond the average: 24.6%.

These data are part of Vital Statistics, released today (18) by the IBGE, a survey that presents data on births, deaths and marriages from more than 7,900 Civil Registry Offices for Natural Persons (RCPN). Data on judicial and extrajudicial divorces, relative to year 2020, will be released at a later date.

“The rise in the number of deaths between 2019 and 2020 was very unusual when compared to that movement in previous years. Considering results since 1984, although some of the previous series are not comparable with the current ones, because the index of underreport was very high, it is possible to observe never before there has been a change above 7% over the year. In general, the increment used to be below or around 3%. From 2010 to 2019, the average change was of 1.8%,” says the survey manager, Klívia Brayner.

The number of deaths records in Brazil went from 1,314,103 in 2019 to 1,510,068 in 2020, which means there were 195,965 more deaths than last year. These figures include only records with reported sex and age of the deceased person. Considering the total number of registers, figures are 1,317,292 (2019) and 1,513,575 (2020), with a difference of 196,283 between the two years. From 2018 to 2019, this change was of 2.6% (an increase by 33.8 thousand deaths).

More than 99% of the change in deaths in 2020 referred to death due to natural causes, a classification that includes deaths caused by diseases, such as Covid-19. And 75.8% referred to the population aged 60 and over. In this age group, there was an increase by 16.3% (148.6 thousand) in deaths in 2020, against a change of 4.5% in the previous two years. In the group aged 15 to 59 years of age, there was an increase by 14.9% in 2020, against a decrease of 1.2% in the previous two years. Among children and teenagers up to 15, on the other hand, there was significant decline in deaths (-15.1%, versus a previous -1.0%).

“There was significant increase of deaths due to natural causes, which is related to the epidemic scenario. On the other hand, the fact that children and teenagers stayed mostly at home seems to have significantly reduced deaths of persons up to 15 years of age, maybe due to reduced exposure to pathogenic agents or external risks,” Ms. Brayner explains.

Also, the increase in the number of deaths from 2019 to 2020 was relatively bigger among men (16.7%) than among women (12.7%).

“Men, in general, have a higher mortality rate, mainly in the group aged 20-24. In 2020, for example, a man that age had 2.1 more changes of dying due to natural causes than a woman. In the case of external causes, such as homicides or accidents, that difference reached 9.6 times. With the advance of age, male excess mortality decreased,” says Ms. Brayner, as she adds these indexes did not change significantly between 2018 and 2020.

Sixteen Federation Units recorded changes in deaths above the national average

All the Major Regions recorded significant changes in the number of deaths. The biggest was in the North (25.9%), followed by that in the Central West (20.4%). The Northeast (16.8%) was also above the national average (14.9%) and the Southeast (14.3%) was a little below. On the other hand, the South recorded the smallest increase (7.5%).

Among the Federation Units, only eleven had increases below the average of the country (14.9%). Paraíba, São Paulo, Mato Grosso do Sul and Tocantins were also close to the average (about 14.5%). And the smallest changes were those of Rio Grande do Sul, with 4.0%, and Minas Gerais, with 7.9%. The other five states below the average of: Bahia (13.1%), Rio Grande do Norte (12.6%), Piauí (1.6%), Paraná (10.5%) and Santa Catarina (9.4%).

The biggest changes were observed in Amazonas, 31.9%, and Pará, 27.9%. And other seven Federation Units had changes above 20%: Mato Grosso (27.0%), Federal District (26.6%), Roraima (25.6%), Maranhão (23.8%), Rondônia (23.2%), Ceará (20.6%) and Amapá (20.0%).

Birth records fell by 4.7%, second year of decrease in a row

Birth records, on the other hand, fell once again (4.7%) in 2020, after a decrease of 3% in 2019. There were 2,728,273 birth records in 2020, and, from that total, 2,678,992 were of children born in 2020 and registered within the first quarter of 2021. About 2% (49 281) had been born in previous years or had an unknown year of birth.

“We had already noticed a trend to decrease in birth rates. In 2016, year of the zika virus epidemic, there was a more significant decrease, above 5.0%. But, in 2019, When there was no equal demographic event in terms of importance, there was also a reduction in the number of births. It is worth mentioning that in 2020, however, the pandemic may have aggravated the postponing of registrations, due to mobility difficulties in reaching registry offices. Maybe part of the decrease by 133 thousand birth records has only been postponed,” the researcher explains.

There were decreases in all the Major Regions, being above the national average in the North (-6.8%) and Northeast (-5.3%) and equals to or below in the Central West (-4.7%), Southeast (-4.3%), and in the South (-3.1%). Among the Federation Units, Amapá recorded the biggest decrease (-14.1%), followed by Roraima (-12.5%), Acre (-10.0%) and Amazonas (-7.4%).

And women have delayed motherhood more and more every day. In 2000, birth records from mothers aged under 30 made up 76.1% of the total, having fallen to 62.1% in 2020. Birth records from mother aged 30 to 39, in 2000 made up 22.0% and reached 34.2% in 2020.

Mothers aged 20 to 29 always accounted for more than 50% of the total births. In 2000, They were 54.5% and, in 2010, 53.1%. However, in 2020, for the first time, that percentage was below half (48.7%).

Number of marriages recorded the biggest decrease in the series

In relation to marriages, the decrease was the biggest in the series of Vital Statistics. In 2020, there were 757,179 civil marriages: 26.1% less than in 2019.

“Since 2015, the number of marriages has decreased, but the decline in 2020 may also be related to the social distancing measures, since many people probably delayed weddings due to the fact they would not be able to throw a party, for example,” Klívia Brayner highlights.

The number of marriages registered in registry offices fell in all the Major Regions, mainly in the Northeast (27.8%) Central West (27.7%) and Southeast (27.3%).

Civil marriages between same-sex partners, after the extraordinary increase of 61.7% in 2018, registered a decrease of 4.9% in 2019 and of 29.0% in 2020. Marriages between female partners made up 60.1% of the records of this type of marital arrangement in 2020.

More about the survey

Vital Statistics gathers information on live births, marriages, deaths and stillbirths reported by Civil Registry Offices of Individuals, as well as divorce reported by Family Courts, Civil Courts and Notary Offices. As an exception, in this edition, the release of divorce records have been postponed. The released data are available at Sidra.

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