Estimating Excess Deaths in French and Spanish Regions During the First COVID-19 Wave with the Later/Earlier Method

Early-Career Researcher Prize 2022
By Ainhoa-Elena Leger, Silvia Rizzi

Estimates of excess deaths have been widely used to measure the overall impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on mortality. We investigate the validity of a method—the later/earlier method— developed for forecasting the number of deaths one would expect if no shock occurred. We apply this method to estimate excess mortality during the first COVID-19 wave in France and Spain (February–June 2020), stratified by age, sex, and region. Although both countries recorded similar numbers of COVID-19 deaths, Spain had higher excess mortality. The results are informative about differences in COVID-19 vulnerability for population subgroups and spatial areas: adults aged 75–85 were the hardest hit; Île-de-France (Paris region) in France and Comunidad de Madrid in Spain had the highest excess mortality. Applicable to other demographic phenomena, the later/earlier method is simple, requires fewer assumptions than other forecasting methods, and is less biased and more accurate than the 5-year-average method.

  • short-term forecasting
  • mortality forecasting
  • excess deaths
  • COVID-19 pandemic
  • France
  • Spain
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