Leading Causes of Death in New York City

Leading Causes of Death in New York City

Posted by Lily Kuo

Updated: Jan 8, 2020


A statistics analysis regards the leading causes of deaths in New York City from 2007 – 2014. The data was derived from the New York City death certificate, which was issued for every death that occurs in New York City by the Bureau of Vital Stistics and New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DOHMH)

The CSV file was download directly from the NYC Open Data site and load it into the R Studio, the empty cells were dropped and the columns with type “factor” was reverted to their original format [numerical, DateTime, etc] and the layers were removed, the percent column was converted into actual percent, and the data set was sorted chronologically by year. The data consisted of 4 different ethnicity groups [Asian and Pacific Islander, Hispanic, Non-Hispanic Black and Non-Hispanic White] and 32 different causes of death were recorded. Since the Age-adjusted death rates account for the difference in population size and relative age of the population, it was used in the analysis.

Starting from 2007, the death counts have steadily decreased throughout the years and remained at approximately 700,000 per year.

There was more death reported in the Non-Hispanic White population, following by Non-Hispanic Black and Hispanic population. The Asian and Pacific Islanders had the least amount of death toll recorded each year. However, death reported in the Non-Hispanic White population had decreased each year from 2007 to 2014, whereas other ethnic groups seemed to stay about the consistent amongst both genders.

The Cause of Death chart suggests that two of the leading causes were much more common than the others, and they were heart disease and cancer. The top-ranking leading causes of deaths other than heart disease and cancer were influenza and pneumonia, chronic lower respiratory diseases, diabetes, stroke, accidents, kidney disease, drug overdose, and Alzheimer’s disease. Some of the causes only occurred within specific ethnic groups and effected a small group of the population, but they reflected direct social threats and the issue of health disparities amongst each ethnic group in the city. It’s also interesting to note that death related to heart disease has steadily declined from 2007 through 2014.

Heart attack has been the leading cause of death not only in New York City but in the United States in general. Deaths from heart disease have been dropping steadily in 2007 based on the data set. Deaths from heart disease decreased 27% from 2007 to 2008, 16% from 2008 to 2009, 7% from 2009 to 2010, 8% from 2010 to 2011, 4.67% from 2011 to 2012, 12.9% from 2012 to 2013, and 10% from 2013 to 2014. This can be a trend to healthier diets, more exercise, reductions in cigarette smoking, use of high blood pressure medication and widespread acceptance of statin drugs to control cholesterol levels.

Causes for death change depending on age. For children between ages 1 to 9 and adolescent and young adults between the ages of 10 and 24 years old, lethal accidents claimed 31.5% of those who died. For those between 45 and 64, cancer kills 30.5%, and it's in this age group that heart disease, for the first time, becomes the second-leading cause of death. At 65, heart disease becomes the leading cause of death for New Yorkers, therefore it is critical to continue to promote healthy living and early disease intervention.

For future reference, it would be nice to have access for additional information below:

  • DATE: Please include the dates of each death, rather than simply the year.
  • AGE: Please include the age of individuals at their time of death.


Lily Kuo

Liyi (Lily) is a Data Science Fellow at the New York City Data Science Academy with a Masters in Biomedical Engineering and Education. She is aspired to be a data scientist who executes data-driven strategies to increase efficiency,...

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