December 06, 2021 | News | Prize for Excellent Paper

Ugofilippo Basellini is Granted the Jan M. Hoem Paper Award


A paper which estimates the impact of mobility restrictions on excess deaths in England and Wales during the first wave of Covid-19 by Ugofilippo Basellini and colleagues was granted the award in the name of former MPIDR Director Jan M. Hoem.

Ugofilippo Basellini, who is Research Area Chair for Aging and Generational Processes in the Laboratory of Digital and Computational Demography at the Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research (MPIDR), and his colleagues from the Laboratory published the winning paper which applies basic research to a highly relevant topic and provides a framework for policy-makers to reduce the mortality burden of a pandemic caused by an infectious disease.

The authors combine classic data sources—the weekly number of deaths published by the official statistics agency in England and Wales—with a data source, whose potential has probably not yet been fully recognized by demographers: publicly available mobility data provided from an internet company.

Basellini and his colleagues developed a novel model to estimate excess mortality based on modern statistical methods. It is based on a Generalized Additive Model using deaths following a Negative Binomial distribution. “This model is more appropriate than many excess mortality models I have seen during the past year of the pandemic”, says Roland Rau, external reviewer of the Award Committee and Professor of Demography at the University of Rostock.

Mortality in the absence of mobility restrictions was simulated by a counterfactual scenario. Finally, the authors published their data and their code so anyone can reproduce the results. “In my opinion, this last point of complete transparency is crucial in an era of alternative facts”, says Roland Rau.

The Jan M. Hoem Paper Award was presented during a virtual ceremony at the Annual Academy, a part of the doctoral program IMPRS-PHDS in early December. The annual prize was awarded for the second time in 2021. It was established to reward a junior researcher at the MPIDR for a paper that exhibits the quality, innovation, originality, and scientific merit exemplified by the work of Jan M. Hoem.

Original Publication

Basellini, U., Alburez-Gutierrez, D., Del Fava, E., Perrotta, D., Bonetti, M., Camarda, C., Zagheni, E.: Linking excess mortality to mobility data during the first wave of COVID-19 in England and Wales. SSM - Population Health (2021). DOI: 10.1016/j.ssmph.2021.100799

Related Press Release

COVID-19 in England and Wales: Excess Deaths Could Have Doubled Without Mobility Reductions


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