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Planning Retirement Online

Life and death in the C20th 


Clare Griffiths and Anita Brock provide the following C20th mortality trends in England and Wales  




  • Around 80 per cent of deaths occurred at ages over 65 in 2000

    compared with around 20 per cent in 1901.


  • Infant mortality and childhood mortality have fallen dramatically 

    over the last 100 years. Infant mortality rates at the beginning of the

    century were nearly 30 times higher than those at the end of the



  • At the end of the century, deaths from cancer formed around 25 per

    cent of all deaths in England and Wales , compared with 15 per cent

    50 years previously and less than five per cent in 1901. This is

    because mortality from circulatory diseases, such as coronary heart 

    disease and stroke declined substantially while mortality from cancer did not.


  • Infectious diseases have declined to low levels, with the epidemics

    of the early part of the century no longer occurring. The biggest

    death toll during the 20th century from an infectious disease was

    between 23 June 1918 to 10 May 1919 , when there were almost

    152,000 deaths for which influenza was the underlying cause.


  • There were increases in death rates from ill-defined causes from the

    1980s to the end of the 1990s because of the increasing certification of 

    deaths as due to "old age". The increase appeared to taper off in 2000.




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