Well-Being Longevity

Michigan recorded more deaths than births in 2020, the first in the state’s recorded history

The American lifespan has declined for the last three years
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Story at a glance

  • Data from the Michigan health department indicates the state recorded more deaths than births in 2020.
  • About 12,938 more people died than were born in Michigan, while 11,362 died by COVID-19.
  • Michigan also suffered a slight decline in its overall population in 2021.

Data out of Michigan paints a bleak picture of the state’s population status, with 2020 reporting more deaths than births for the first time in the state’s recorded history and COVID-19 is likely a contributing factor. 

Michigan’s health department published data that indicated 117,087 people died in 2020 while only 104,135 live births were recorded, a difference of 12,952. 

According to health department data, of those who died, 11,362 were attributed to COVID-19. However, that figure only reflects those who had COVID-19 listed on their death certificates as an underlying cause of death. Michigan’s health department has also separately recorded an additional 13,002 people considered COVID-19 fitted deaths, meaning the number of people who died due to causes associated with the virus.  

“We can blame a lot of deaths on COVID, but the fact is the trend of increasing deaths and decreasing births is a problem for Michigan outside of COVID,” said Kurt Metzger, a demographer who founded Data Driven Detroit and the former mayor of Michigan city Pleasant Ridge, to the Detroit Free Press. 


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Related Michigan health department data also reveals that in 2019 the live birth rate was 10.8, the lowest in the state’s history since 1990 and lower than the national average of 11.4. 

Though Michigan’s total population increased in 2020 to about 10 million, it suffered a 0.3 percent loss in 2021. 

All of these factors add up, on top of an aging population and lack of immigrants, as Metzger explained, “it’s not necessarily that growth is the answer to everything, but when you’re not growing in population, people start to question decisions to move there or open businesses there or anything else.” 

It’s likely that COVID-19 will intensify population problems in Michigan as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) forecasts that the state will continue to see a sharp rise in new weekly cases of COVID-19. 


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