National Profiles of Coronavirus Disease 2019 Mortality Risks by Age Structure and Preexisting Health Conditions

Ashton M. Verdery, Lauren Newmyer, Brandon Wagner, Rachel Margolis

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Scopus citations


Background and Objectives: Although individual age and preexisting health conditions are well-documented risk factors for coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) mortality, it is unclear whether these 2 factors capture unique dimensions of risk for epidemic severity at the national level. In addition, no studies have examined whether national distributions of these factors are associated with epidemic experiences to date. Research Design and Methods: Drawing on surveys of older adults from 42 countries and estimated case fatality ratios by age and preexisting health conditions, we document and compare national profiles of COVID-19 mortality risks among older adults. We develop 2 measures of national risk profiles: one based on age structures and another based on distributions of preexisting health conditions. Our analysis compares these constructs and documents their associations with national COVID-19 mortality rates. Results: National profiles of COVID-19 mortality risk based on age structure and preexisting health conditions are moderately uncorrelated, capturing different aspects of risk. Both types of national risk profiles correlate meaningfully with countries' COVID-19 mortality experiences to date. Discussion and Implications: Measures of population age structure are readily available for every country in the world, while cross-national measures of older adult population health are more limited. In the COVID-19 crisis, these factors give different pictures of the countries with high and low risks of COVID-19 mortality. Moreover, our results suggest that both types of national risk profiles based on population health reflect current COVID-19 mortality severity in several countries, highlighting the need for more cross-national comparative data on older adult population health.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)71-77
Number of pages7
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 1 2021

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Gerontology
  • Geriatrics and Gerontology


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