Spain Reports More Than Five Times As Many COVID-19 Deaths-Per-Capita As US

Authored by Ryan McMaken via The Mises Institute,

It's been a couple of days since my post on deaths per 100,000 in the USA and several other countries.

I'm very much a cautious "measure twice, cut once" type of person, so I went back and updated some of my calculations using more recent numbers.

Specifically, I've updated the third graph in the original post which is the number of deaths per 100,000 at the same point in the timeline since at least 1 case per million population was reported.

In the US, the first day to show more than one case per million population was March 7. So, counting up twenty days we arrive at March 26. On that day, there were 1,295 total deaths in the US. That works out to 0.391 COVID-19 deaths per 100,000. Meanwhile, in Italy, the first day with at least one case per million was Feb 22. Twenty days later, there were 1,106 deaths. That works out to 1.572 COVID-19 deaths per 100,000.

And so on:

And here's how things looked five days earlier, on day 15:

The gap between the US and Spain and the US and Italy became larger over these five days. At day 15, Italy's total for deaths per 100,000 was 3.9 times larger than the US rate. At Day 20, Italy's rate was up slightly at 4 times larger. At Day 15, Spain's death rate was 4.6 times larger than that in the US. At day 20, Spain's rate had grown to 5.6 times larger than the US rate.

As I noted earlier, there are many reasons why the deaths per 100,000 could be higher in Spain and Italy than in the US, Germany, and Switzerland.

One may be the quality of healthcare.

While the US, Germany, and Switzerland all have health systems with sizable government sectors, they have multi-payer systems that are more competitive and modern than the systems found in Spain and Italy (and the UK, for that matter).

Switzerland has a system similar to Obamacare.

Another major factor is demographics. Both Spain and Italy have some of the lowest birth rates in the world, and these relatively elderly populations are lopsidedly affected by COVID-19. These demographic trends can be seen a bit in their population growth:

Note how few people Spain and Italy add each day on average. Spain barely adds anyone at all each day. And Italy is declining in population. (These are historical averages, so this doesn't include deaths from COVID-19.)

Italy is simply a country with a very old population and very low birth rate. In fact, Italy's population is projected to fall more than 10 percent over the next thirty years. The US's population growth, while not high by global standards, is certainly more robust than we're seeing in Spain and Italy. This is true both in total numbers and proportional to the population overall. With the exception of Iran and Switzerland, the US is growing faster percentage-wise than all these countries.

These trends aren't carved in stone. It's entirely possible that something will happen in which the US's death rate accelerates so fast that it overtakes Spain and Italy in this regard. At this time, however, that is not the trend.

(Net population change data, COVID-19 deaths, and total population data are from Worldometer.)