Journal Article

Linking excess mortality to mobility data during the first wave of COVID-19 in England and Wales

SSM-Population Health, 14:100799, 1–18 (2021)
Open Access


Non-pharmaceutical interventions have been implemented worldwide to curb the spread of COVID-19. However, the effectiveness of such governmental measures in reducing the mortality burden remains a key question of scientific interest and public debate. In this study, we leverage digital mobility data to assess the effects of reduced human mobility on excess mortality, focusing on regional data in England and Wales between February and August 2020. We estimate a robust association between mobility reductions and lower excess mortality, after adjusting for time trends and regional differences in a mixed-effects regression framework and considering a five-week lag between the two measures. We predict that, in the absence of mobility reductions, the number of excess deaths could have more than doubled in England and Wales during this period, especially in the London area. The study is one of the first attempts to quantify the effects of mobility reductions on excess mortality during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Keywords: England, Wales, digital demography, epidemics, excess mortality
The Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research (MPIDR) in Rostock is one of the leading demographic research centers in the world. It's part of the Max Planck Society, the internationally renowned German research society.