by Ramon Bauer, Peter Frühwirt, Roman Seidl and Franz Trautinger
Last update: 1 October 2020 – auf Deutsch lesen
In Vienna, approximately 16,000 to 17,000 people die each year. That corresponds to 45 deaths per day or 300 per week, on average. However, the actual weekly number of deaths fluctuates widely due to seasonal events such as flu epidemics or heat waves. The need for up-to-date data analysis has increased in the wake of the current COVID-19 pandemic. For this reason, Statistics Vienna evaluates the latest mortality trends and updates the available information week by week.
This page also provides an analysis of weekly mortality trends in Vienna and Austria’s provinces since 2007 and descriptive data of weekly deaths European cities.
Update 28 June 2020: Refined Methodology
- Two months after the start of the Vienna Mortality Monitoring, we refined our methodology so that the prediction intervals also take into account increasing life expectancies (besides changing population sizes and seasonality). For Vienna, the changed methodology means that our updated results now shows excess mortality during one week in January 2020 in the course of the flu season. At the peak of the COVID-19 pandemic, however, the number of weekly deaths remained within the upper range of the prediction interval.
Weekly deaths in Vienna in 2020: no excess mortality since outbreak of pandemic
No excess mortality associated with COVID-19 was registered in Vienna during any week since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic in Austria in late February 2020 until 20 September (i.e. week 38). This is true for both the age group 0 to 64 years as well as the age group 65 years and older; the weekly number of deaths did not exceed the range of the expected values for either group from March to July. During week 15 and 16 (6–19 April), the preliminary number of deaths was relatively high but still within the expected range. During week 5, i.e. before the COVID-19 pandemic reached Austria, the number of registered deaths in the age group 65+ was outside the prediction interval during the (rather moderate) 2020 flu season. Flu and heat-related mortality is not unusual in Vienna (see chart below).
Chart: Weekly deaths in Vienna 2020 (data)
Our analyses include all deaths of people with a residence in Vienna who died in Austria. The data originates from the Register of Vital Statistics (ZPR) and is provided by Statistics Austria. It must be noted that the data is still preliminary. The number of deaths of the two latest available weeks (as highlighted in the chart) have not yet been fully registered and are therefore partially estimated by Statistics Austria.
In order to assess whether there was any excess mortality we defined the range of the expected number of deaths. The prediction intervals (“bands”) comprise 99% of the expected values assuming a random and independent distribution of the weekly number of deaths by age group (0 to 64 years or 65 years and older). The “bands” take into account seasonal fluctuations and changes in the population size and age structure – see our method report (in German). This is especially relevant because Vienna experienced strong population growth and shifts in the age structure since the turn of the millennium. Data on weekly deaths since 2007 as well as the prediction intervals are published at the Austrian Open Data portal.
Weekly deaths in Vienna since 2007
The following chart shows the number of weekly deaths in Vienna (excluding deaths that happened abroad) since the beginning of 2007. In recent years, Vienna has experienced several short periods of flu epidemics and summer heat waves (e.g. in summer 2015 and in winter 2016/17) during which excess mortality has been registered.
Chart: Weekly deaths in Vienna 2007 to 2020 (data)
Scroll to the right or click chart for full screen view
Mortality in Austria’s nine provinces
Based on the methodology described above, we also analysed weekly deaths in all Austrian provinces and calculated the respective prediction intervals (i.e. expected ranges of weekly deaths). The results can be found here.
Mortality in European cities since 2015
Additionally, we prepared descriptive statistics of weekly deaths in selected European cities or urban regions (NUTS-3/2) since 2015 on a separate website (in German only). These descriptive analyses show clear deviations in 2020 from the previous year’s values for some cities while mortality trends in other cities do not seem to be affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. However, these descriptive analyses do not take into account the seasonality of mortality, nor the changing population and age structures in the selected cities and urban regions.
About the Authors
- Ramon Bauer is Deputy Head of Statistics Vienna (MA 23).
- Peter Frühwirt works in the Basic Research Section at the City of Vienna’s Department for Economic Affairs, Labour and Statistics (MA 23).
- Roman Seidl works in the Basic Research Section at the City of Vienna’s Department for Economic Affairs, Labour and Statistics (MA 23).
- Franz Trautinger is Head of Communication at the City of Vienna’s Department for Economic Affairs, Labour and Statistics (MA 23).