Seasonality of mortality in Germany since 1950 and the identification of exceptional events (like the summer heat wave of August 2003)

Martin Kohls, University of Rostock
Reiner H. Dinkel, University of Rostock

Classical writers of demography identified seasonal variation for all demographic variables. The pattern of seasonality of mortality above age 1 is in principle unchanged but declined in strength. Extreme fluctuations in the number of deaths still frequent during the 19th century disappeared with a few exceptions in 20th century. Like in many other European countries ten thousand of deaths were attributed to the consequences of the August 2003 heat wave in Germany. To clarify the death burden of this extraordinary event we must compare observed and expected mortality. Mortality data from the German Statistical Office from 1948 were used to calculate the seasonal pattern of mortality in Germany using the Hodrick-Prescott filter. We conclude that most of what happened during the 2003 heat wave in Germany was no more than a short term reaction in the date of death (harvesting-effect) and had only minor consequences on annual mortality.

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Presented in Session 71: Methods of mortality analysis