The mortality rate calculator is a tool designed to help you calculate the death rate in a particular population within a chosen time interval. It can be used as a risk estimate and an indicator of potentially dangerous circumstances.

Have you ever heard someone claiming that "You're more likely to die in a bike accident than in a shark attack"? How exactly do they know that? The answer is the proportionate mortality of each event. If you're wondering how to estimate a similar likelihood - or would simply like to know more - read on! In this article, you'll learn about the types of mortality rates, the high mortality rate meaning, the difference between morbidity and mortality, and much more.

What does mortality rate mean? Difference between morbidity and mortality

The simplest mortality rate definition is the measure of the frequency of death in a specific population measured over a defined time period. It's usually expressed per 10n people. For instance, a mortality rate of 8.91 per 10,000 (n = 4) would mean that in every group of 10,000, approximately 8.91 people will have died over the specified time period.

There is a difference between morbidity and mortality, even though these two terms may look similar, and, mathematically, they can often be expressed using the same formula. Mortality refers to death, whereas morbidity talks about diseases, not necessarily fatalities. Therefore, if you asked "what is the mortality rate of the flu?", the answer would be different than if you wondered how many people had the flu in total, as some of them could have recovered.

A high morbidity rate may yield an increased mortality rate; therefore, stopping the spread of the disease may be a good way of reducing the number of deaths. In certain circumstances, wearing a face mask can help prevent a disease spreading.

What are the types of mortality rate?

There are several types of mortality rate, each providing us with different data and informing us of the risks associated with various states. The main ones are:

  • Crude mortality rate - The most general type as it refers to all causes of death. Generally, it's used to compare the living conditions of certain periods or populations as it's been found that death rates decrease in developed countries. It also tells us what factors are especially crucial to our well-being.
  • Specific death rates - These can be age, cause, race, or sex-specific. They provide more detailed data, allowing us to focus on reducing the impact of the most deadly factors, for instance, by producing vaccines. This is the case you consider when asking what is the mortality rate of the flu, for instance.
  • Infant, postneonatal, and neonatal mortality rates - These are particular age-specific cases. They cover different time intervals:
    • Neonatal - From birth up to the first 28 days (excluding exactly 28 days);
    • Postneonatal - From 28 days of age up to 1 year of age (excluding exactly 1 year);
    • Infant - A sum of the above two, so it covers the time from birth up to 1 year (excluding exactly 1 year).

It's commonly calculated annually and used for comparing health status among countries or historical periods.

  • Maternal death rate - Another specific type as it deals only with people deceased during pregnancy or within 42 days of termination. It may be tricky to calculate as it excludes deaths caused by incidents unrelated to this state. It's another way of comparing the medical development of countries or periods; it also tells us what conditions may increase risks related to childbirth (e.g., age). Often, you can read about high maternal mortality rates in the past centuries as it had, perhaps surprisingly, a great impact on people's lifestyles.
  • Combined mortality rate - A mixture of the specific rates often used in research. An instance could be the breast cancer mortality rate among women aged 35-79. This is age, cause, and sex-specific.
  • Age-adjusted death rate - A standardized and more objective rate. Mortality increases with age, so if we simply compared an older society (such as Japanese with a median age of 48.6) with a younger one (e.g., the USA with a median age of 38.1), we'd find that the former has higher mortality rate. To eliminate such distortions, the values are adjusted using various statistical techniques, resulting in the age-adjusted death rate.

How to calculate the mortality rate?

For crude and specific cases:

  1. Find the number of deaths and the population size reported during the specified period.
  2. Divide the number of deaths by the population size.
  3. Choose the exponent, n.
  4. Multiply the result by 10ⁿ to get the result per every 10ⁿ people.

That was a long story short, but actually, there are a few mortality rate formulae, depending on the type we consider. We present them below with an explanation of how they're grouped in our mortality rate calculator:

  • The crude death rate formula can be expressed as:

death rate = deaths / population * 10n,


  • deaths - Deaths measured within specified time interval for a certain population;
  • n - The exponent and gives you the answer per every 10n people. So, for example, if you choose n = 3, you obtain the death rate for every 1000 people.

The critical thing to note is that this mortality rate formula also works for specific and combined cases. The only difference is that you use numbers for your chosen group instead of the whole population.

  • For an infant mortality rate calculation, we use the formula:

infant mortality rate = deaths among children / live births * 10n ,

where both deaths among children and live births are measured within the same time period. This formula is valid for infant, postneonatal, and neonatal mortality rates.

  • If you are wondering how to calculate the maternal mortality ratio, here is your answer:

maternal mortality rate = deaths during pregnancy / live births * 10n,

where both variables are measured over the same time interval, and deaths during pregnancy include those that happened within 42 days of its termination.

Proportional mortality ratio formula and what it tells us

We already know how to calculate the mortality rate, but there is another option available in our tool that hasn't been discussed yet, namely the proportionate mortality. This figure describes the proportion of deaths associated with different causes to the total number of deceased in a defined population over a time period. Notice the difference: this is a ratio, not a rate. The denominator is total deaths instead of the population size. So what is the proportional mortality ratio formula? It's the following:

proportional mortality ratio = deaths due to a specific cause / total deaths * 100(%).

The % sign comes from the fact that this figure is usually expressed as a percentage. This also means that all ratios (or causes of death) ought to add up to 100%.

The proportionate mortality allows us to determine the primary causes of deaths and is the figure you want to consider when comparing what is more dangerous for you.

What is the high mortality rate meaning?

The mortality rate is used mainly in epidemiology. It helps estimate the mortality risk, identifies potential threats, and gives statistics about the population. The latter is commonly considered in the economy as there is a correlation between the amount of income and increased mortality rates. High mortality may also mean an outbreak or circumstances resulting in many casualties, e.g., war.

Example: a safe trip to Australia using the mortality rate formula

Plenty of us have heard about spider rain in Australia or stumbled upon memes about giant reptile visitors. We can't blame you if these discouraged you from going to the kangaroo homeland despite its stunning views. However, below we will work through an example and present some more optimistic figures.

Many headlines try to scare you by calling the spiders deadly. However, although there are approximately 2000 bites per year, there hasn't been any deaths since 1979. This is where knowing the difference between morbidity and mortality comes in handy. If we take Australia's population to be 25.36 million, the morbidity rate is 7.89 per every 100,000 people (we took n = 5), but the death rate is precisely 0.

Snakes are slightly more dangerous with 2 deaths per year. However, if we take n to be 5 again and input this into the mortality rate calculator, we find that only 0.01 per 100,000 people die each year due to their bites. We can take this example even further. There were 158,493 deaths in Australia in 2018. Using the crude death rate formula, we find 624.97 deceased for every 100,000 people. If we apply the proportional mortality ratio formula, we find that snakes contributed to approximately 0.001% of total deaths.


What is the mortality rate?

The death rate is a measure of the frequency of death estimated for a specific population over a time period. There are several types of mortality rates: crude, age-adjusted, or specific to age, cause, race, or sex.

What is the proportionate mortality?

The proportionate mortality is a ratio of the number of deaths due to a specific cause to the total deaths in a population. It is usually expressed as a percentage.

What is the difference between mortality and morbidity?

Mortality refers to death, whereas morbidity relates to illness incidence. Diseases don't necessarily have to be fatal. Although both terms mean different things, the morbidity and mortality rate formulae are basically the same.

How to do an infant mortality rate calculation?

  1. Find the number of deceased children under 1 year of age and live births reported over the chosen period.
  2. Divide the number of deaths by live births.
  3. Choose the exponent, n.
  4. Multiply the result by 10ⁿ to obtain the rate per every 10ⁿ people.

How to calculate maternal mortality ratio?

  1. Find the number of deaths during pregnancy and live births reported during the same time interval.
  2. Divide the number of deaths by live births.
  3. Choose the exponent, n.
  4. Multiply the result by 10ⁿ to get the value per every 10ⁿ people.
Michael Darcy
Population size
Mortality rate
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