White group had highest overall mortality rate pre-pandemic – ONS

White people in England and Wales had a “significantly elevated” overall mortality rate compared with all other ethnic groups before the coronavirus pandemic, analysis shows.

The white ethnic group had higher mortality rates for many causes of death, such as dementia and a range of common cancers, than most other ethnicities in 2017-2019, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) said.

But other ethnicities had higher mortality rates for causes of death such as heart disease and diabetes.

The ONS said reasons behind the findings are complex and differ by cause of death.

They include socio-economic characteristics, where people live, exposure to different risks such as cigarette smoking, health-related behaviours, biological factors, and access to and use of healthcare services.

And some ethnic groups contain a higher proportion of recent migrants, with previous research suggesting people who migrate tend to be healthier.

Its analysis is experimental and further research is required to investigate the reasons for the differences, the ONS added.

The ONS analysed more than 4 million deaths of people aged 10 and over between 2012 and 2019 and linked these to ethnicity as self-reported in the 2011 census.

More than 96% of the registered deaths during this period were captured in the analysis.

The latest analysis builds on figures published last month, which covered mortality rates and life expectancy by ethnicity between 2011-14.

It found that the age standardised mortality rate for the white group was 1,058.5 deaths per 100,000 population between 2017-19.

This was followed by 1,022.5 deaths per 100,000 in Mixed/Multiple Ethnic Groups, and 824.0 deaths per 100,000 in the Indian group.

Heart disease was the leading cause of death for all males except the black Caribbean group.

The leading cause of death for females, except Bangladeshi, Indian and Pakistani groups, was dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.

Males and females in the Bangladeshi, Pakistani, and Indian ethnic groups had a significantly higher mortality rate for heart disease compared to the white group.

White males experienced higher mortality rates from dementia and Alzheimer’s disease than most ethnic groups, while white females had a higher mortality rate than all except for the mixed ethnic group.

Cerebrovascular diseases, conditions that affect the blood supply to the brain such as stroke, were among the five most common leading causes for all ethnic groups except the white male group.

White males experienced the highest mortality rate from flu and pneumonia, while white females had the highest breast cancer mortality rate.

The white group also experienced higher mortality rates than most other ethnicities for cancers of the lung, bladder, brain, colon, oesophagus and kidney.

Mortality rates from diabetes in most ethnic groups were higher than the white group, and highest in the Bangladeshi group.

Those in the black ethnic groups tended to have higher mortality rates from hypertensive diseases compared to the other ethnicities.

The black ethnic groups also had higher mortality rates from prostate cancer.

Rates of suicide, while not a leading cause of death, were highest in white and mixed ethnicity males and mixed ethnicity females.

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