Wednesday
Jun132018

Deficit of the Dead in Puerto Rico 

Today CNN reports that Puerto Rico released ~24000 post huricane death records to two news outlets out of concern that hurricane related deaths are being under reported.  So I'm confused, and don't have access to the dataset.

There is something odd obout that number, let me explain.  Its been by my accounting 265 days post Maria, and there are 365.2422 days in a year, and Puerto Rico has a population of approximately 3,742,016 people with a life expectancy of 79.57 years.  If Maria never happened there should of been about 34,121 deaths (265 days /365.2422 days/year * 3742016 lives /79.57 years per life = 34121 anticipated deaths).  

 Are they reporting unexpected deaths alone and not all deaths?  And how good is the reporting?  The CDC asks "But for the disaster, would the person have died when they did?"   Certainly 10,000 lives were not saved by Maria's!  

 The Congressional Task Force on Economic Growth in Puerto Rico estimated half a million people left, even so that would leave a natural expectation of 29,561 deaths.   This number would seem to be low as hitting ballpark 24000 deaths require 1,109,960 people (or more) to leave Puerto Rico.  Almost one in three.

That's staggering and heart breaking!  I can't use this circular model to get to the true causalty of Maria.   All I can state is roughly, island population departure rate + unreported death rate are approximately equal to 29.7%.    If the the island departure rate was about 13% (per the CTFEGPR estimate), then about 17% of natural deaths, perhaps four thousand in 266 days, were not officially recorded by Puerto Rico or took place outside Puerto Rico.  

The disaster has "fog of war" in the data.  Doubtless, survival is more important than perfect record keeping.   

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