Statistics for 2021: More than a million deaths

Status: 11.01.2022 2:34 p.m.

Never in the history of the Federal Republic of Germany have so many people died in a year as in 2021. According to the Federal Statistical Office, it was around 1.02 million. The high number can only partly be explained by the coronavirus.

Last year, the number of deaths in Germany exceeded the one million mark for the first time in decades. In 2021, a total of around 1.02 million people died in Germany, according to the Federal Statistical Office, citing a special analysis of the provisional deaths.

There were more than a million deaths in one year in what is now the Federal Republic of Germany in the post-war period only in 1946 – at that time around 1,001,600 deaths were registered. While difficult living conditions at the time explained the high number of deaths, today, according to the statistics office, the main cause is the larger population and the higher proportion of older people.

Around 31,000 more deaths than in 2020

Specifically, 1,016,899 people died last year. Compared to the first Corona year 2020, the number of deaths rose by three percent or 31,327. The aging of the population only partially explains this further increase, because the overall increase in life expectancy weakens the aging effect. Before the pandemic, the number of deaths rose annually by an average of one to two percent.

This changed with the corona crisis: in 2020 the number of deaths rose by five percent compared to 2019 before the pandemic and by eight percent in 2021 compared to 2019.

Highest number of deaths in autumn and winter

In the course of 2021, the number of deaths was only below the mean value of the four previous years in February and March, and in some cases significantly higher in the remaining months.

Especially in November and December during the fourth corona wave, the numbers exceeded the comparative value. For example, 21 percent more people died in November and 22 percent more people in December than the average for the four previous years.

Increased numbers can only partly be explained by Corona

According to the statistics office, the increased number of deaths in autumn can only partly be explained by the Covid-19 deaths. The “unreported number” of undetected corona deaths or the postponement of deaths within a year as a result of the flu epidemic that failed at the beginning of the year could also play a role.

According to the experts, “the consequences of postponed operations and preventive examinations” may also be revealed. However, the contributions of individual effects cannot currently be quantified. As is well known, the high utilization of the clinics due to Corona led to plannable treatments and operations being postponed early in the pandemic. In addition, many people avoided going to the doctor for fear of infection.

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