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Frequently Asked Questions


Questions about registration and access to the data:

Password problems and password-related issues:

Downloading the data and importing it into Excel:

Do you have...?

What we do NOT have:

Data series to be added or expanded and updated:

Uses for the HMD data:

Understanding and Interpreting the HMD data:

Questions about registration and access to the data:

  1. Why do I have to register?

    We require you to register before accessing the data in order to obtain basic contact information (i.e., your name, e-mail address, affiliation, and title) because we may occassionally need to contact you with important messages about the database (e.g., updates, other critical information). We will NOT give your e-mail address to anyone else for any reason. Nor do we ask for any other personal information other than that listed above.

  2. How Do I Register?

  3. Go to the New User entry under Registration on the left side of the main HMD menu and follow the steps. You will be guided through the registration process.

  4. I forgot my password. Can you send it to me?

    We cannot send you your password as we do not store an unencrypted version. If you cannot remember it, you can ask us to delete your account (see below) and then you will need to go through the registration process again (see “How Do I Register?” above).

  5. How can I delete my name or unsubscribe from your registration database?

    Please send a delete request to: hmdunsubscribe@mortality.org. It is important that the request be sent from the e-mail address that was registered, if possible. If that is not possible (e.g., cancelled account), then the delete request should include your name, the e-mail address used to register, your affiliation, and your job title. We need this information in order to verify the user address to delete (and avoid deleting the wrong person).

  6. Are the data free?

    Yes, but you must register before you can access the data files.

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Password problems and password-related issues:

  1. I registered but never received a password.

    You must provide a valid e-mail address in order for us to issue you a password (otherwise, how will we e-mail you the password?). Make sure you provide your complete e-mail address (e.g., "joeuser@aol.com" NOT "joeuser" or "joeuser@aol"). If we determine that the e-mail address you provided is not valid, you will be prompted to retry registration. If the e-mail we send to you is rejected, you may be dropped from the user registry and you should start over by registering as a "new user".

    After registering, you should receive an acknowledgement via e-mail within a few minutes. If you do not see the acknowledgement email, then registration was not successful, your email server did not accept our message to you, or registration acknowledgment is sitting in your spam filter.

  2. My password does not work!

    Make sure that you are using the correct user-ID; your "user-ID" is your COMPLETE e-mail address (i.e., "joeuser" will NOT work). Also, make sure you enter the user-ID using lowercase characters (even if you originally typed in your e-mail address using upper-case characters). In addition, your password is case sensitive (e.g., if you changed your password to "AbCd", then entering "abcd" or "ABCD" will not work). Make sure you type in the password EXACTLY as you entered it (Do you accidentally have the CAPS lock on?). If all else fails, you can reset your password (see answer to next question).

  3. I can't remember my password.

    Go to Change/Reset Password where you will have the option of resetting your password. You will be asked to enter your e-mail address (i.e., the one that you registered with originally) and a new password will be sent to you via e-mail. Note: If you have not already registered with a valid e-mail address, you must start over by registering as a "new user".

  4. How can I change my password to something other than this 10-digit string of random numbers?

    Go to Change/Reset Password where you will have the option of changing your password. You will be asked to enter your e-mail address and your current password, and then you can change your password to whatever you would like.

  5. Can I let someone else use my password?

    No. Each HMD user must register separately. If there is some important change to the database, we need a complete list of HMD users so that we can contact everyone who may be using the data.

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Do you have...?

  1. Do you have data on cause of death?
    Not yet, but please check again during year 2016 as we are working on expanding the HMD to include cause-specific mortality series for a number of selected countries. The World Health Organization (WHO) Mortality Database contains cause of death information for a wide range of countries and Eurostat provides some cause-specific mortality series for countries in the European community more specifically. For more detailed information, we suggest you contact the national agency responsible for collecting vital statistics in the country for which you are seeking data. For example, for the United States, the National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS) compiles vital statistics (e.g., births, deaths) and other health-related data at the national level.   (See also the following list of national statistical agencies.)

  2. Do you have data for COUNTRY X?
    If COUNTRY X is not listed on our home page, then we do not (yet) have data for that population. The countries and areas currently included in the HMD, with ranges of years covered by the period life tables can be found on the Data Availability.

    See the answers to questions below for a list of countries to be added or extended in the near future.

  3. Do you have data by region (administrative area) within countries?
    No. The HMD only collects data at the national level, except for the United Kingdom and Germany. For the United Kingdom, mortality series are also provided separately for England and Wales, Scotland, and Northern Ireland. For Germany, series are also provided separately for East Germany and West Germany.

    For some countries, independent regional HMD-like projects have been or are currently being implemented. This is the case in particular for Canada and Japan. However, please note that these regional projects are not parts of the HMD and that we are not taking any responsibility for the quality and accuracy of the data provided.

    The HMD team is however part of a collaborative project with the United States National Center for Health Statistics to produce a Human Mortality Database that will present mortality series for each of the U.S. States (plus D.C.) with a similar methodology as the current HMD. We are planning to publish these series in a separate database by the Summer of 2015.

  4. Do you have infant mortality rates (IMR)?
    Yes. We consider q(0) -- the probability of dying in the 1st year of life -- from the life table to be the best indicator of infant mortality. The q(x)'s for a given calendar year are provided in the 1x1 life tables accessible from each HMD country page. For example, among females in the United States q(0) was 0.00842 in 1990, which can be interpreted as an IMR of 8.42 per 1000 live births.

    Another method commonly used to calculate the IMR is the ratio of deaths in the 1st year of life to live births in that same calendar year (typically expressed per 1,000 births). One problem with this method for calculating the IMR is that the numerator (deaths) and the denominator (live births) represent different cohorts. For example, if the IMR for year t is calculated in this manner, the denominator represents only the cohort born in year t, but the numerator also includes infants born in year t-1 who died in year t before reaching their 1st birthday.

    Despite this drawback, you may wish to calculate the IMR using this method in order to make comparisons with other estimates of the IMR defined in this way. The data files on each country page provide the annual number of live births and the annual number of deaths at age 0 (see 1x1 deaths). Using these numbers, one can simply calculate the ratio (and multiply by 1,000) to get the IMR.

    Other common sources for IMRs are: The Demographic Yearbook, published by the United Nations; and the World Development Indicators, published by the World Bank.

    Despite its common name, note that the "infant mortality rate" is NOT a rate, but rather a probability.

  5. Do you have fertility data?

    No, the HMD includes mortality data series only. However, a companion database, called the Human Fertility Database (http://www.humanfertility.org/), might fulfill your data needs.

  6. Do you have mortality data by race/ethnicity?

    No. The HMD currently includes mortality data only at the national level (by sex and age) except for the Maori and non Maori populations of New Zealand.

  7. Do you have data by month or by day?

    No. The HMD does not have either death counts nor birth counts by month or by day but only by year.

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What type of information will I NOT find here?

  • Mortality data by cause of death - not yet, but work on it
  • Population of the world
  • Mortality data for the world population (e.g., average worldwide human lifespan)
  • Population forecasts/projections of any kind
  • Data on morbidity (i.e., illness/disease)
  • Data on fertility
  • Mortality data at the subnational level (e.g., by province, state, region)
  • Mortality data by race/ethnicity
  • Proportion of people with blond hair and blue eyes
  • Mortality data, death counts and birth counts by month or by day

Where can I find such information?

  • Ask a librarian (it's their job!).
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Data series to be added or expanded and updated:

  1. What countries do you plan to add in the near future?
    There is no specific plan to include any new country at the moment though we will continue to investigate this possibility in the future.

  2. Do you plan to extend existing data series farther back in time?
    Yes. In the future, we are hoping to extend the data series for the following populations:

    • Czech Republic (1920-1949)
    • France Total and Civilian (1806-1815)
    • Japan (1899-1946)
    • Portugal (1929-1939)
    • Taiwan (1906-1969)

  3. How often is the HMD updated?
    The HMD is updated on a continuous basis as new data become available for each country. In addition to updating the statistical series, the corresponding documentation is modified as needed.

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Uses for the HMD data:

  1. Who can use these data?

    Anyone may use the HMD data (after registering), but HMD users are typically professional demographers, actuaries, or other persons with demographic training. The HMD is designed for users who have a basic knowledge of demographic methods. If you cannot answer the following question, "What is a life table?", then your ability to make effective use of these data will be rather limited.

  2. What do people use these data for?

    These data are used primarily for research and teaching purposes. For example, professional demographers use these data for comparative studies of mortality and analyses of time trends in mortality decline. Demographers and actuaries may also use these data to assess mortality risk among specific populations (i.e., by country, sex, age) for financial purposes. Others use these data in making mortality and population projections. In addition, educators use the HMD for teaching courses in demography and actuarial science. Students often use the data for homework assignments in demographic methods or other courses.

Understanding and Interpreting the HMD data:

  1. Why are some period death rates larger than 1.0?

    At older ages, the number of deaths and the exposure-to-risk, derived independently, eventually become quite small so that the former sometimes becomes larger than the latter, resulting in observed population death rates M(x) higher than 1. Because of such results, we smooth M(x) values at ages 80 and over before calculating the life table. This smoothing procedure ensures that the life table m(x) series remains below 1. Please, see the Methods Protocol for more details.

  2. Why are there two sets of population estimates for some years?

    Two sets of population estimates are provided in years when a territorial change occurred. The first set of estimates (identified as the year followed by a - sign) refers to the population size just before the territorial change took place, while the second set (identified as the year followed by a + sign) refers to the population size just after the change. For example, in France, the data for "1914-" cover the French territory as of December 31, 1913 while the data for "1914+" reflect the territorial boundaries as of January 1, 1914. Please see the Explanatory Notes under "Important Notes" for more details. You will also find information on the estimation of period death rates around the time of a territorial change on p.70 of Appendix D of the Methods Protocol.

  3. What are 'Lexis triangles'?

    A Lexis triangle is half of a Lexis square. Lexis was a leading demographer who developed a graphical form of analysis of how events occur over age and time. The usual term is 'Lexis diagram' which will provide far more information in a search than the derived term 'lexis triangle'. Please see the Methods Protocol to understand how this is used in the HMD project.

  4. What do the + and - signs next to some of the calendar years in the HMD series of population estimates represent?

    Some of the countries included in the HMD have experienced changes in their territorial boundaries. These changes must be taken into account when computing death rates and life tables (unless the changes are very small in relation to population size). In general, death counts must always refer to the same territory as the exposure-to-risk when calculating death rates. Some special calculations are thus performed for countries with changing territories during the time period covered by the HMD. The 'plus' and 'minus' signs next to some calendar years refer to the population size as of January 1st before ('minus') and after ('plus') territorial change occurred. For more information about calculation methods, please refer to the Methods Protocol (Appendix D - Adjustments for changes in population coverage on p. 63.) For details about territorial changes in specific countries, please refer to the background and documentation files for these countries.

  5. Why are there stars (*) instead of numbers for the death counts and population estimates for some countries Input Data series?

    For some countries, access to the input data is protected for privacy issues. In such situations, the original data are replaced by the star symbol. Input data are typically of a higher level of details than the HMD series and we are complying with these countries request to do not make them publicly available.

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