Research / BFI Working PaperJan 07, 2022

Using Household Rosters from Survey Data to Estimate All-cause Mortality during COVID in India

Anup Malani, Sabareesh Ramachandran

Official statistics on deaths due to COVID undercount deaths due to lack of testing. In developed countries, death registries have been used to measure total excess death during the pandemic. However, very few developing countries have even partial death registries or the capacity to register deaths during a pandemic. In this paper we estimate excess deaths in India using the member roster of a large and representative household panel survey. We estimate roughly 6.3 million excess deaths during the pandemic through August 2021. We cannot demonstrate causality between COVID and deaths but the timing and age structure of deaths is consistent with the COVID pandemic and excess deaths are positively correlated with reported infections. Finally, we find that excess deaths were higher among higher-income persons and were negatively associated with mobility. The methods in this paper can be used in countries with a household panel to measure health-related demographic indicators.

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