TheEconomist/covid-19-excess-deaths-tracker Source code and data for The Economist’s covid-19 excess deaths tracker

The Economist’s tracker for covid-19 excess deaths

This repository contains the data behind The Economist’s tracker for covid-19 excess deaths (which is free to read), and the code that we have used to clean, analyse and present the numbers.

Source data

Our tracker uses data from a number of statistical bureaus, health ministries and government departments. For each country, you can find the relevant source documents in the /source-data/ folder, including some old versions in each country’s /archive/ folder. Some of the data are automatically downloaded from official websites in cleaning_script.R, an R file that formats the data consistently across countries.

We have also collated a full list of sources and links in a file called list_of_sources.csv. In general we have tried to use the most expansive official estimate of covid-19 deaths available in each country. Belgium, Britain and Sweden all publish restrospectively adjusted estimates of when deaths occurred or were registered, rather than when they were reported. For most other countries, we have used the figures maintained by the ECDC and Our World In Data. We have subtracted one day from the ECDC’s time series (since it uses 10am CET as its cut-off point).

Below is a summary of our sources for each country.

Austria

Variable Source Notes
total_deaths Statistik Austria Last analysed to April 5th
covid_deaths ECDC / Our World In Data
expected_deaths Statistik Austria Weekly average, based on 2016-19

Belgium

Variable Source Notes
total_deaths Sciensano Last analysed to April 26th
covid_deaths Sciensano Retrospectively adjusted, to use day that death occurred
expected_deaths Sciensano Weekly average, based on 2015-19

Britain

We have combined English and Welsh data from the Office for National Statistics with data from the National Records of Scotland and the Northern Ireland Statistics and Research Agency. Scotland reports data two days after everywhere else. We have used the ONS and NISRA dates as our weekly ending point.

Variable Source Notes
total_deaths ONS / NRS / NISRA Last analysed to May 1st
covid_deaths ONS / NRS / NISRA Retrospectively adjusted, to use day that death was registered
expected_deaths The Economist Weekly average, based on 2015-19

Chile

To follow the latest census in 2017, from which we are importing population estimates, we have grouped the regions of Ñuble and Biobio together. We have imported regional covid-19 death tolls from a GitHub repository maintained by Data Science Research Peru.

Variable Source Notes
total_deaths Registro Civil Last updated to May 12th
covid_deaths Ministerio de Salud / DSRP
expected_deaths The Economist Weekly average, based on 2015-19

Denmark

Variable Source Notes
total_deaths Danmarks Statistik Last analysed to May 5th
covid_deaths ECDC / Our World In Data
expected_deaths The Economist Weekly average, based on 2015-19

Ecuador

We are importing Ecuador’s national covid-19 death toll from the ECDC. Ecuador’s Ministerio de Salud Pública is producing daily PDF bulletins of official covid-19 deaths in each province, but we have not yet found this data in a machine-readable format, and so have left province-level covid-19 observations blank.

Variable Source Notes
total_deaths Registro Civil Last analysed to April 30th
covid_deaths ECDC / Our World In Data
expected_deaths The Economist Monthly average, based on 2018-19

France

France’s national covid-19 toll, which we are importing from the ECDC, includes deaths in nursing homes. But the regional covid-19 tolls, which we are importing from Santé Publique France, only include deaths in hospitals. Santé Publique France’s hospital data begin on March 18th. Before then, we have trained a statistical model to predict each region’s share of national hospital deaths.

Variable Source Notes
total_deaths Insee Last analysed to April 28th
covid_deaths Santé Publique France / ECDC
expected_deaths The Economist Weekly average, based on 2015-19

Germany

Variable Source Notes
total_deaths Destatis Last analysed to April 14th
covid_deaths ECDC / Our World In Data
expected_deaths The Economist Weekly average, based on 2016-19

Indonesia

The only available data about deaths from all causes is a monthly tally of burials in Jakarta, which comes from the city’s Department of Parks and Cemeteries.

Variable Source Notes
total_deaths Provinsi DKI Jakarta Last analysed to April 30th
covid_deaths Provinsi DKI Jakarta
expected_deaths The Economist Monthly average, based on 2018-19

Italy

Italy’s national statistical bureau, ISTAT, has published data about deaths from all causes up to March 31st, covering 6,866 of the country’s 7,904 comunes. We have used the covid-19 death toll for the entire country, imported from the Dipartimento della Protezione Civile.

Variable Source Notes
total_deaths ISTAT Last analysed to March 31st
covid_deaths Dipartimento della Protezione Civile
expected_deaths The Economist Weekly average, based on 2015-19

Netherlands

Variable Source Notes
total_deaths Centraal Bureau voor de Statistiek Last analysed to May 10th
covid_deaths ECDC / Our World In Data
expected_deaths The Economist Weekly average, based on 2015-19

Norway

Variable Source Notes
total_deaths Statistisk Sentralbyra Last analysed to May 5th
covid_deaths ECDC / Our World In Data
expected_deaths The Economist Weekly average, based on 2015-19

Portugal

Variable Source Notes
total_deaths Ministerio da Saúde Last analysed to May 12th
covid_deaths ECDC / Our World In Data
expected_deaths The Economist Weekly average, based on 2015-19

Russia

Russia’s Federal State Statistics Service has only published regional data about deaths from all causes up to March 31st. Instead, we have imported data from the Moscow’s Government Open Data Portal, which has released monthly figures up to April 30th.

Variable Source Notes
total_deaths Moscow Government Open Data Portal Last analysed to April 30th
covid_deaths Ministry of Health of Russia
expected_deaths The Economist Monthly average, based on 2015-19

South Africa

Variable Source Notes
total_deaths South African Medical Research Council Last analysed to April 28th
covid_deaths ECDC / Our World In Data
expected_deaths South African Medical Research Council Baseline modelled by SAMRC

Spain

Variable Source Notes
total_deaths Instituto de Salud Carlos III Last analysed to May 5th
covid_deaths Ministerio de Sanidad / Datadista
expected_deaths Instituto de Salud Carlos III Baseline modelled by MoMo

Sweden

Variable Source Notes
total_deaths Statistiska Centralbyran Last analysed to April 28th
covid_deaths Folkhalsomyndigheten Retrospectively adjusted, to use day that death occurred
expected_deaths The Economist Weekly average, based on 2015-19

Switzerland

Variable Source Notes
total_deaths Federal Statistical Office Last analysed to May 3rd
covid_deaths ECDC / Our World In Data
expected_deaths The Economist Weekly average, based on 2015-19

Turkey

The only available data about deaths from all causes is a daily tally of burials in Istanbul, which comes from the city’s Metropolitan Municipality (İstanbul Büyükşehir Belediyesi). We are grateful to Oğuz Işık for collecting this data by hand and sending it to us.

The Turkish government has not released a regional breakdown of covid-19 data since April 1st, at which point the city had roughly 40% of the nation’s official deaths and 55% of confirmed cases. For our tracker, we have assumed that Istanbul has had 50% of Turkey’s official covid-19 death toll, which we are importing from the ECDC.

Variable Source Notes
total_deaths İstanbul Büyükşehir Belediyesi Last analysed to May 12th
covid_deaths ECDC / Our World In Data
expected_deaths The Economist Weekly average, based on 2017-19

United States

The CDC is publishing weekly data about deaths from all causes in each state and New York City. We are importing data on covid-19 deaths from USA Facts, which collates it from the CDC. For New York City, we are using covid-19 death data from the city’s Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, which includes confirmed and probable fatalities. For the time being, we are not reporting a nationwide death toll from all causes, because the quality of data varies from state to state.

Variable Source Notes
total_deaths CDC Last analysed to April 25th
covid_deaths CDC / USA Facts / NYC Health NYC toll includes “probable” deaths from covid-19
expected_deaths The Economist Weekly average, based on 2015-19

Scripts and output data

Our tracker uses two different R scripts to calculate excess deaths in each country:

  • cleaning_script.R: this imports raw data from various sources, and exports a weekly or monthly historical time series of total_deaths and covid_deaths going back to 2015 (or the earliest available year). If the source for total deaths has also specified a value for expected_deaths, that is included too. We remove any weeks or months in which the data might be incomplete. The files are exported to /output-data/historical-deaths/.

  • excess_deaths_script.R: this imports the time series files from /output-data/historical-deaths/, and calculates the weekly or monthly expected_deaths for each country. We then use that baseline to calculate excess_deaths, and export the files to /output-data/excess-deaths/.

Licence

This software is published by The Economist under the MIT licence. The data generated by The Economist are available under the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

The data and files that we have generated from official sources are freely available for public use, as long as The Economist is cited as a source.

Authors

This data has been collected, cleaned and analysed by James Tozer and Martín González. We are grateful to Oğuz Işık for collecting and providing data from Turkey.

If you use the data, or have any suggestions, please email [email protected].