Relative age-standardised mortality

Analysis from the Office for National Statistics compares European nations.

Anthony B. Masters
3 min readApr 12, 2022

In my co-written book Covid by Numbers, a graph shows relative age-standardised mortality. The graph in the book has a production error, where the UK lines do not have correct alignment. The original version, made in R, looks like:

(Image: Covid By Numbers)

What are relative age-standardised mortality rates? To calculate age-standardised mortality, we need to find mortality rates within age groups. Next, analysts calculate the weighted average of these age-specific rates. The weights come from a standard population, here: the 2013 European Standard population. This index is then

The Office for National Statistics updated their analysis. Now, we can update this graph. In the original version, I uploaded a spreadsheet containing the mortality statistics. This time, I want to draw straight from the online file. That helps make the code more reproducible.

To achieve that goal, I use the curl package:

temp <- tempfile()
temp <- curl_download(url = ons_rasmr_url, destfile = temp,
quiet = TRUE, mode = "wb")
ons_rasmr_tbl <- read_excel(temp,
sheet = ons_rasmr_sheet,
range = ons_rasmr_range)



Anthony B. Masters

This blog looks at the use of statistics in Britain and beyond. It is written by RSS Statistical Ambassador and Chartered Statistician @anthonybmasters.