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  • Writer's pictureMelinda Mills

Working Paper: The Distributional Impact of Covid-19: Geographic Variation in Mortality in England

Richard Breen (Department of Sociology and Nuffield College, Oxford) John Ermisch (Leverhulme Centre for Demographic Science and Nuffield College, Oxford)


We find that age and sex standardized death rates from Covid-19 during 1 March to 31 May 2020 in English Local Authority areas depend strongly on their rates of infection, but, even allowing for this, death rates are higher in areas of higher population density. After controlling for population density but not infection rates, the relationship between higher social deprivation and their Covid-19 mortality rate is much weaker than the relationship between social deprivation and mortality rates more generally, including non-Covid mortality in 2020, pointing to the distinctiveness of the distributional impact of Covid-19. Most strikingly, an area’s non-white proportion of population has a large positive association with age and sex standardized Covid-19 mortality, in contrast to a negative association with 2020 non-Covid mortality and with 2018 mortality. We also find a positive spill-over from Covid-19 mortality in neighbouring areas to an area’s Covid-19 mortality, which contrasts with the virtual absence of spatial spill-over in 2018 mortality and non-Covid 2020 mortality.

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