Mortality displacement / “harvesting”

Mortality displacement is a term used in the context of heat-related mortality. Mortality displacement is a phenomenon where the heat principally affects individuals whose health is already compromised and who would have died shortly anyway, regardless of the weather. Estimates of mortality displacement are often calculated for defined heat wave periods that include “before”, “during” and “after” the heat wave periods, lasting typically less than 2 months (Gosling et al. 2007; Le Tertre et al. 2006; Sartor et al. 1995). The effect of mortality displacement is usually calculated by dividing the mortality deficit (the number of “negative excess deaths” after the heat wave , i.e. the number of deaths below that expected after the heat wave ) by the total number of excess deaths during the heat wave (i.e. deaths above that expected during the heat wave ) and converting to a percentage. Estimates of mortality displacement calculated by this method include 15 % during the Belgium 1994 heat wave (Sartor et al. 1995), 6 % and 30 % in Paris and Lille respectively during the 2003 European heat wave in France (Le Tertre et al. 2006), and 71 %, 45 % and 59 % in Budapest, London and Sydney, during heat waves of 1991, 2003 and 2004, respectively (Gosling et al. 2007).

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