Mortality: Factors Affecting and Causes of Decline

After reading this article you will learn about factors affecting and causes of decline of mortality rates.

Factors Affecting Mortality:

Mortality or death is affected by a variety of factors. They may be biological, physiological, environmental, etc. From the demographic view point, mortality is related to the age and sex of an individual. There is infant mortality, mortality of woman at the time of delivery, mortality of man due to cancer of the prostate, etc.

In its Manual on the International Statistical Classification of Causes of Death, the World Health Organisation (WHO) places them under the following five categories:

1. Infectious, parasitic and respiratory diseases


2. Cancer

3. Diseases of the circulatory system

4. Violence and accidents

5. All other causes such as diseases of the digestive system.


With the exception of category 4 when deaths occur due to violence and accidents, deaths in the remaining categories are being reduced with the advancement of medical science in both developed and developing countries.

In the past, the mortality rate was high because of food shortages and famines, spread of epidemics, insanitary conditions, and long and recurrent wars.

After the Second World War, the mortality rates have declined so much in developed countries along with birth rates that the problem of extremely small growth rate of population has arisen in a number of countries like France, Germany, Japan, etc. This has been due to rapid advancement in medical sciences in controlling all types of diseases through life saving drugs and surgery.

Other factors responsible for low mortality rates in developed countries have been cleanliness of person and home, hygienic surroundings, pollution control, social security measures, balanced food, health consciousness, etc.

Causes of Decline in Mortality Rates in Developing Countries:

Mortality rates have declined considerably in developing countries in recent years due to the following reasons:

(1) Disease Control Medicines:


By importing drugs from developed countries, the developing countries have been able to control such mass killers as typhoid, malaria, small pox, pneumonia, plague, etc. The World Health Organisation, in particular, has been helpful in eradicating malaria, small pox, polio, TB, etc. to a considerable extent.

(2) Public Health Programmes:

Developing countries with the assistance of WHO have been adopting public health programmes for keeping the environment clean and free of pollution. Governments have been following strict pollution control measures. Consequently, deaths due to respiratory diseases have declined.

(3) Medical Facilities:

Medical facilities have not only increased but also improved in such countries. The number of doctors and trained nurses has increased considerably. Besides the spread of government hospitals in urban centres and primary health centres in rural areas, private hospitals and nursing homes are fast coming up which provide the best of medical facilities comparable to those in advanced countries. As a result, the number of deaths are on the decline.

(4) Spread of Education:

With the spread of education, people are becoming rational. They are giving up superstitious and fatalist attitude towards life. They have started taking keen interest in their own health and that of their children. They have become health conscious. They take nutritive and balanced diet, do exercise, go for a walk and even to a gym. All these have brought down the death rate.

(5) Status of Women:

In almost all the developing countries, the status of women in society has increased with spread of literacy among them. Women now understand the importance of cleanliness and hygiene and take better care of their children’s health. Consequently, the infant mortality rate is on the decline. Early marriage of girls has been banned in the majority of developing countries, thereby reducing the death rate at the time of the first child.

(6) Food Supply:

With the increase in food supply in the majority of developing countries and through imports of food grains from developed countries like the USA and Australia, famines have been controlled. This has resulted in reduction of death rates in such countries.

(7) Life Expectancy:

Over the years, life expectancy has increased in developing countries due to increase in economic growth rates, rise in per capita incomes, improved health, medical, sanitation facilities, etc. Consequently, the death rate is on the decline and the percentage of population in 60 plus age group is on the increase.

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