‘Winter mortality, temperature and influenza’. Revisiting Curwen and Devis after a quarter of a century

José Iparraguirre, James Goodwin


Objectives: to update the still quoted 25-year-old finding that a drop in winter temperature by 1 ºC below its mean is associated with 8,000 excess winter deaths in England and Wales.

Methods: time-series regression of excess winter deaths between 1950/1 and 2011/12 on mean outside temperature, influenza and pneumonia deaths and a secular trend.

Results: we find that a 1 ºC decrease in winter temperature below its mean is associated with 5,100 excess winter deaths. Excess winter mortality has been falling on average by approximately 580 deaths per year.

Conclusions: Our revised estimates should supersede Curwen and Devis’s in academic and official publications. Notwithstanding there has been some mitigation in the effects of winter temperature on mortality over the last 60 years, excess winter mortality - given its magnitude- should still be a major source of public health concern in England and Wales.

José IPARRAGUIRRE, Chief Economist, Age UK, London, United Kingdom, and Universidad de Morón, Buenos Aires, Argentina. London, United Kingdom. E-mail: jose.iparraguirre@ageuk.org.uk.

James GOODWIN, Head of Research Department in Age UK, London, United Kingdom.

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ISSN: 2035-5556

Reg. Tribunale di Roma n. 3321/54