State Watch

Ohio records more deaths than births for first time in state history

Ohio recorded more deaths than births for the first time in history last year, with more than 10,000 more people dying than were born in the state in 2020.

The Columbus Dispatch reported on Monday that around 143,661 Ohioans died in 2020, while about 129,313 were born. This trend appears to have continued so far this year, with 107,462 deaths and 100,781 births recorded.

Deaths have never surpassed births in the 112 years since the Buckeye State began compiling data, according to the Dispatch.

One expert who spoke to the Dispatch said that this unprecedented development was caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

“It doesn’t surprise me at all,” the medical director of infectious diseases for OhioHealth, Joseph Gastaldo, told the newspaper. “It’s COVID, clearly.”

Ohio Department of Health Director Bruce Vanderhoff declined to speak with the newspaper, though he noted in a prepared statement that the gap between births and deaths in the state has been narrowing for many years.

The Dispatch noted that birth rates in Ohio actually fell by four percent in 2020, defying expectations of a pandemic birth boom.

About half of U.S. states saw death rates exceed birth rates in 2020, the newspaper noted, including Michigan, Pennsylvania, Indiana, Kentucky and West Virginia.

Alabama also saw its death rate surpass its birth rate for the first time.

“This past year, 2020, is going to be the first year that we know of in the history of our state where we actually had more deaths than births. Our state literally shrunk in 2020 based on the numbers that we have managed to put together and actually by quite a bit,” Alabama State Health Officer Scott Harris said in September.

According to Harris, Alabama recorded 64,714 deaths and 57,641 births last year.

Tags birth rates Columbus, Ohio COVID-19 pandemic death rates population decline
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