Exploring Mortality Rates for Major Causes of Death in Korea

Hyo Jung Oh1, Donng Min Yang1, Chong Hyuck Kim1, Jae Gyu Jeon2, Nam Hyung Jung2, Chan Young Kim3, Jürgen Symanzik4, Hyo Won Oh5, Akugizibwe Edwin6, Seong Il, Jo6, Jeong Yong Ahn6, *
1 College of Liberal Arts, Chonbuk National University, Jeonju, Korea
2 School of Dentistry, Chonbuk National University, Jeonju, Korea
3 Medical School, Chonbuk National University, Jeonju, Korea
4 Department of Mathematics and Statistics, Utah State University, Utah, USA
5 College of Dentistry, Wonkwang University, Iksan, Republic of Korea
6 College of Natural Science, Chonbuk National University, Jeonju, Korea

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© 2019 Oh et al.

open-access license: This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International Public License (CC-BY 4.0), a copy of which is available at: ( This license permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.

* Address correspondence to this author at the Department of Statistics (Institute of Statistics), Chonbuk National University, Jeonju, Korea; Tel:82622703392; E-mail:



The trends and patterns of the mortality rates for causes of death are meaningful information. They can provide a basis for national demographic and health care policies by identifying the number, causes, and geographical distribution of deaths.


To explore and analyze the characteristics of the mortality rates for major causes of death in Korea.


Some common data analysis methods were used to describe the data. We also used some visualization techniques such as heat maps and line plots to present mortality rates by gender, age, and year.


Our analysis shows the crude mortality rates have continually decreased over the last 25 years from 1983, though they have increased slightly since 2006. In addition, the top eight causes of death accounted for 80% of all Korean deaths in 2015. During the period 2005-2015, the leading cause of death was cancer in male and circulatory diseases in female. The trend for respiratory diseases shows a steep upward trend in males, while a similar trend can be observed for respiratory and nervous system diseases in females.


The deaths for circulatory, respiratory, nervous system, digestive, and infectious diseases are the highest in the age 80 to 84, while cancer is the leading cause of death for ages 75 to 79. In addition, the mortality rates for circulatory, nervous, and respiratory diseases increase rapidly after the age of 80. Therefore, policies on health and welfare for the elderly are getting more and more important.

Keywords: Mortality, Causes of death, Temporal trends, Data visualization, Health policy, Korea.