GDP Growth and Excess Mortality in the G7

Two weeks ago my post looked at GDP growth during the pandemic. But of course, economic growth isn’t the only important outcome to look at in the pandemic. Health outcomes are important too, and indeed I have posted about those in the past alongside GDP data.

Today, my chart looks at the G7 countries (representing roughly half of global wealth and GDP), showing both their economic performance (as measured by real GDP growth) and health performance (as measured by excess mortality through February 2022).

The US has clearly had the best economic performance. But the US also had the highest level of excess deaths per capita (not all of this is from COVID — US drug overdoses are also way up — but even using official COVID deaths, the US still tops this group).

Japan had the best health performance, in fact amazingly no cumulative excess deaths through February 2022 (this has risen very slightly since then, but I stopped in February so all countries had complete data). However, Japan also had slightly negative economic growth.

Which country ends up looking the best? Canada! Very low levels of excess deaths, and at least some positive economic growth. Not as much growth as the US, but Canada is the second best performer in the G7.

To give some context of just how low the level of deaths have been in Canada, first recognize that the US had 1.1 million excess deaths in the pandemic through February 2022. If instead our excess deaths had been roughly equal to Canada on a per capita basis, we would have only had 180,000 excess deaths in the US, saving over 900,000 lives.

Some of Canada’s COVID policy have been overly restrictive, such as the vaccine mandates that sparked protests in February 2022. But by then, Canada had already largely achieved it’s COVID victory over the US and most other G7 nations. Compare excess mortality in Canada with the US: the only big wave in Canada that came close to the US was the Spring 2020 wave. After that, Canada was always much lower.

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