An Improved Measure of Deaths Due to COVID-19 in England and Wales

48 Pages Posted: 2 Jul 2020

See all articles by Sam Williams

Sam Williams

Economic Insight

Alasdair Crookes

Economic Insight

Karligash Glass

Loughborough University - School of Business and Economics

Anthony Glass

Sheffield University Management School

Date Written: June 25, 2020

Abstract

We address the question of: ‘how many deaths in England and Wales are due to COVID-19?’ There are two approaches to measuring COVID deaths – ‘COVID associated deaths’ and ‘excess deaths’. An excess deaths type framework is preferable, as there is substantial measurement error in COVID associated deaths, due to issues relating to the identification of deaths that are directly attributable to COVID-19. A limitation of the current excess deaths metric (a comparison of deaths to a 5 year average for the same week), is that it attributes the entirety of the variation in mortality to COVID-19. This likely means that the metric is overstated because there are a range of other drivers of mortality. We address this by estimating novel empirical Poisson models for all-cause deaths (in totality; by age category; for males; and females) that account for other drivers including the lockdown Government policy response. The models are novel because they include COVID identifier variables (which are a variation on a dummy variable). We use these identifiers to estimate weekly deviations in COVID deaths (about the mean weekly estimate pertaining to the COVID dummy variable in our baseline model). Results from two sets of identifiers indicate that, over the periods when our weekly estimates of total COVID deaths and the current excess deaths measure differ (week ending 17th or 24th April 2020 – week ending 8th May 2020), the former is considerably below the latter – on average per week 4670 deaths (54%) lower, or 4727 deaths (63%) lower, respectively.

Note: Funding: None to declare

Declaration of Interest: Done to declare

Keywords: Overreporting of COVID deaths, Lockdown policy, Mean COVID deaths estimate, Deviations from the mean estimate, Demographics

JEL Classification: C54, I18

Suggested Citation

Williams, Sam and Crookes, Alasdair and Glass Kenjegalieva, Karligash and Glass, Anthony, An Improved Measure of Deaths Due to COVID-19 in England and Wales (June 25, 2020). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3635548 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3635548

Sam Williams

Economic Insight ( email )

London
United Kingdom

Alasdair Crookes

Economic Insight ( email )

London
United Kingdom

Karligash Glass Kenjegalieva (Contact Author)

Loughborough University - School of Business and Economics ( email )

Epinal Way
Leics LE11 3TU
Leicestershire
United Kingdom

Anthony Glass

Sheffield University Management School ( email )

Bartolomé House
Winter Street
Sheffield, S3 7ND
United Kingdom

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