More Deaths than Births in Alabama in 2020

I wonder what the cause was? It sounds pretty serious.

Dr. Scott Harris, the State Health Officer of the Alabama Department of Public Health, brought some grim stats to the press this week:

“This past year, for Alabama, the year 2020… we are going to have more deaths in the state of Alabama than we have ever had in the history of the state of Alabama, by a lot,” Harris said Wednesday in a COVID-19 Town Hall today with “We’re going to have around six or seven thousand more people who died in our state this past year than any year we have ever had, going back to the year 1900. That’s how far I’ve asked our staff to go back.”


“This is the first year in the history of Alabama that we’ve had more deaths in our state than we had births in our state,” Harris said. “Our state shrank last year. And it’s not a coincidence that that’s about exactly the number of deaths we had from COVID.”


Harris reiterated that these excess deaths are indeed because of the COVID-19 pandemic, and that COVID deaths haven’t been artificially inflated.

“We’ve get skeptical people who go, ‘Oh well, those were just older people who were going to die anyway, and you’re just attributing their deaths to COVID.’ That is not the case,” he said. “We had six or seven thousand COVID deaths last year. That’s about how many excess deaths we had in the state of Alabama.”

2020 death data is preliminary, and could change, but the total isn’t likely to go down much.

Here is the info in chart form going back to 1950:

While it is certainly true that the trend lines were heading for a convergence, the extreme uptick in deaths in 2020 is stunning from a statistical point of view (and tragic from a human perspective).

FILED UNDER: Health, US Politics, ,
Steven L. Taylor
About Steven L. Taylor
Steven L. Taylor is a Professor of Political Science and a College of Arts and Sciences Dean. His main areas of expertise include parties, elections, and the institutional design of democracies. His most recent book is the co-authored A Different Democracy: American Government in a 31-Country Perspective. He earned his Ph.D. from the University of Texas and his BA from the University of California, Irvine. He has been blogging since 2003 (originally at the now defunct Poliblog). Follow Steven on Twitter


  1. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    It’s got to be hard for Dr. Harris to have the role of lone voice crying in the wilderness. I think I’d go back to private practice. It’s hardly likely to pay less than government and will be, at least marginally, less stressful. The hole that the state has managed to dig itself into will be stressful no matter what. Perhaps a move to a less self-destructive state.

    (And a reminder for luddite, and particularly me, why following his associate retiring in the South is such a relentlessly marginal idea.)

  2. JohnMcC says:

    Thank goodness there is a ready supply of Haitians to replace all those covidiots! Let’s start introducing our AL friends to their new neighbors!

  3. MarkedMan says:

    To the the extent that you think that Public Health is a responsibility of the government, the Jim Crow model employed by Alabamians for two centuries or more is a resounding failure. If, however, you see governance as being about keeping people in their place, however miserable that place may be, then GO BAMA!

  4. Raoul says:

    Apparently a majority of the population of Alabama wants to secede. Maybe one day Alabama will become a preserve for deer and turkey.

  5. Mister Bluster says:

    Alabama State Song
    Little, little, can I give thee,
    Alabama, mother mine;
    But that little–hand, brain, spirit,
    All I have and am are thine.
    Take, O take the gift and giver.
    Take and serve thyself with me,
    Alabama, Alabama,
    I will aye be true to thee.

  6. Jay L Gischer says:

    You know, that plot does not look like something that would describe a people that is thriving, even before covid.

  7. Michael Cain says:

    @Jay L Gischer:

    You know, that plot does not look like something that would describe a people that is thriving, even before covid.

    Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama have been losing population relative to the rest of the US for a few decades now. Louisiana lost a House seat after the 1990 census. Mississippi lost one after the 2000 census. For the last few years it looked like Alabama would lose one after the 2020 census, but they held on. Population growth in the South has been selective.

  8. Gustopher says:

    Harris reiterated that these excess deaths are indeed because of the COVID-19 pandemic, and that COVID deaths haven’t been artificially inflated.

    Are they caused by covid, or by responses to covid?

    I feel like we all know the answer is covid, but I haven’t actually seen anything rigorous verifying it.

    Heart attack admissions to ERs have been reported to be down, but is that because people are having less heart attacks, getting covid first and not lasting until their heart attack, or skipping the ER trip due to fear of covid and then dying (either at home, or after their next heart attack which might have been prevented)?

    That first case would be bizarre, that second case would partly inflate reported covid effects (some percentage would have survived but for covid, but the rest would not, and so covid seems more deadly while partly just eating into other deaths), and the third would represent an increase in deaths unrelated to covid virus, but related to the pandemic.

    We’re two years into this, I would have expected we would have better data at this point than just hunches and conventional wisdom.

    Also, every few months I try to find out if people already on blood thinners do better or worse than the rest of the population when they get covid, but can find nothing. I could make a case either way.

  9. flat earth luddite says:

    @Just nutha ignint cracker:

    Oh, I know I’m not moving down there. I mean, yes, living outside of Atlanta is cheap, but SWMBO and daughter both hate heat, bugs, and humidity, so it’s a solid NO.

    Although both our Guvenators have set forth a mandate/order requiring state employees to get their vaccines/shots, and YOUR revolution is being led by first responders — IIRC, lawsuits filed by LEO’s and medical staffers, all of whom should certainly know better. But hey, dey gotta own us commies, right?

  10. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @flat earth luddite: I can’t fix that, but at least all exemptions for school employees based on religious objections have to go through a screening process by the DOL. I expect a log jam at some point where school employees will be placed on leave “pending final evaluation,” but the state and district are hoping not. The deadline for making the objections passed on Wednesday of this week according to an email I got.

  11. flat earth luddite says:

    @Just nutha ignint cracker:

    My contract work is all remote, with video or telephone meets. 1x week to pick up snail mail docs. OTOH, the Stupor Store employer has a requirement for vaccine or mask, but no proof required. Of the 2 anti-vaxers (out of 20 employees), one has quit, and the other’s getting tired of me telling him to put his damn mask back on. (Of course, he’s my brand new 19-year-old boss, but I still frequently tell him he’s an idjit.) Frankly, I’m just too tired of it all to fear for humanity any longer. If I were in HR, I’d probably wind up in front of a grand jury, explaining the bodies…

  12. Pete S says:

    What would the GDP of Alabama be with no federal spending and major college teams and recruits not willing to cross and international border to play football at Alabama and Auburn?

  13. @Pete S: We do have auto manufacturing, NASA, and the port of Mobile, (plus Orange Beach is nice) but we rely heavily on federal dollars due to a large amount of rural poverty.

    The state does struggle in a host of ways, to be certain.

  14. Pete S says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:
    But i would assume NASA would be lost too?

    My question wasn’t intended as an insult to Alabama even if it came off as snarky. But as a mid-50’s Canadian i lived through a few campaigns where Quebec was debating leaving. Some got as far as a referendum. To my memory (admittedly flawed) there was always a shift from leave to stay in the polling once the federal government made clear that they would not be sending money, and in fact would expect to pick up its share of the national debt on the way out.

  15. @Pete S: Detached from the federal government, this state would be in a world of hurt, to be sure. (And yes, a lot of Alabamians don’t seem to fully understand that fact).

  16. SC_Birdflyte says:

    @Steven L. Taylor: Same here in SC. We have Boeing, BMW, and Charleston, but we’re still a “taker state” from Uncle Sam. Alabama’s governor is acting marginally smarter than our Disaster McMaster.