Revised 24 May 2019


There is but only one cause of births which is conception, but many causes of deaths which include immediate death due to injury by accident etc. or underlying causes which include the following: communicable diseases; maternal, prenatal and nutrition conditions; infectious and parasitic diseases; respiratory infections; and nutritional deficiencies such as underweight and stunting. 


Table 2 shows statistics in 1990 and 2016 on three types of underlying causes of deaths as a proportion of the total of these deaths within three groups of countries. 


Table 2: Underlying Causes of Deaths in Countries by Socio-Demographic Index (SDI) 1990 & 2016

 (Data: Our World in Data 2019)






Countries





Year

Deaths due to 

non-communicable diseases


(% of total deaths)

Deaths due to

 Communicable, maternal, neonatal, and nutritional diseases

(% of total death)


Deaths due to

Injuries


(% of total deaths)






High SDI

1990

87.9

5.2

6.9

High SDI

2016

89.3

5.1

5.6






Middle SDI

1990

64.0

24.3

11.7

Middle SDI

2016

80.4

10.5

9.1






Low SDI

1990

24.7

68.1

7.2

Low SDI

2016

38.4

53.1

8.6


The countries have been grouped using the socio-demographic index (SDI) which is a summary measure of a country‚Äôs development based on average income per person, educational attainment, and fertility. Total fertility, the average number of children per family is addressed in more detail in a section below. 


The proportion of underlying deaths due to injuries in the high, middle, and low SDI countries were of a similar magnitude in 1990 ranging from 6.9% to 11.7% and the shifts in the proportion of these deaths from 1990 to 2016 were minor compared to the other underlying causes of deaths. 


The significant difference in the underlying causes of deaths between the SDI group of countries in 1990 was due to communicable, maternal, neonatal, and nutritional diseases. This proportion of deaths was 5.2% in the high SDI countries compared to 24.3% and 68.1% in middle and low SDI countries respectively. The significant difference was due to the difference in the level of medical care and nutrition in each SDI group of countries. There was little change in this proportion of deaths from 1990 to 2016 in the high SDI countries (5.2% to 5.1%, a reduction to 98% of the previous proportion). The reduction in this proportion of deaths was significant in the middle SDI countries (24.3% to 10.5%) and less so in the low SDI countries (68.1% to 53.1%). The proportion of underlying causes of deaths due to non-communicable diseases subsequently increased in all SDI countries. 


The high proportion of deaths due to communicable, maternal, neonatal, and nutritional diseases in the low SDI countries in 2016 is of major concern, especially when this category of deaths is preventable with better medical care and nutrition. Lack of sufficient medical care and nutrition is a reflection of the inequity in income and educational attainment between countries, an issue which is addressed in Section: Inequality