As with fertility, there appears to be a link between death rates and economic development. The lowest (around 5%o) are associated with regions of generally high living standards, whereas the highest (around 30%o) are characteristic of economically backward areas.
In other words, countries with low birth rates also tend to have low death rates and those with high birth rates have high death rates.
There are numerous factors influencing death rates and the main ones are summarized below:
(1) Demographic structure:
Countries or areas within countries where the age structure is top-heavy where there is a high proportion of an aged person will have generally high death rates. In Britain, the retirement resorts of the south coast are examples of such areas.
Regions with a preponderance of men over women will have higher death rates than areas where the proportion is the reverse.
The better the medical services and supplies, the lower will be the death.rates. A general guide to the extent of medical facilities is the ratio of doctors to patients within given areas.
On an average, developed countries have fifty times more doctors to patients than do developing countries. Several countries in Central Africa are so badly off that there is only one doctor to every 70,000- 90,000 people.
(3) Social class:
Poorer sections of population usually have higher death rates than do richer sections. This is doubtless because they are less privileged, perhaps living in substandard housing and insanitary conditions and being unable to afford a balanced diet or adequate medical treatment.
In the USA the mortality rate of the black population is significantly higher than that of the white population.
In social security and welfare schemes countries where social security and state-financed welfare schemes are in operation, the connection between social class and mortality levels is reduced.
In Britain, for instance, the Welfare State ensures that everyone has a comparatively high standard of housing, nutrition and medical care.
Certain occupations are more dangerous than others and therefore lead to a greater number of deaths. Coal miners are vulnerable to a high accident risk as well as being prone to such respiratory diseases as pneumoconiosis and tuberculosis.
Indeed, it is possible (although there are few statistics available to prove this) that any occupations which involve harsh conditions lead to relatively high death rates.
These might include jobs in quarries, mines, building and construction, and those dealing with asbestos other occupations which lead not to physical deterioration, but to mental strain.
These also may result in early death and would include all jobs that carry high levels of responsibility.
Place of residence. Generally, death rates are higher in urban areas than in the countryside. This is probably related to such factors as crowded living conditions, high traffic densities, atmospheric pollution and nervous strain, all of which are the hallmark of modern urban life.