A measure of the number of deaths, the mortality rate is the incidence of deaths in a given population during a defined period typically expressed per 1,000 or 100,000 individuals. In 2018, the US reported 2,839,205 deaths out of an estimated population of 326,687,501. Graph 1 shows a national mortality rate of 8.69 for 2018, indicating close to 9 deaths for every thousand people.

Graph 1: Mortality Rate in the United States and Arkansas by Race, 2018

Arkansas’s mortality rate for 2018, and the rates specific to Black and White residents, exceeded the national average. In contrast, mortality ratios for Hispanics and other ethnic groups in the state fell below the US rate. In part, these results are a reflection of age differences between Arkansas and the country as a whole. While the state’s Non-White residents are younger, White residents are older than the White population nationwide and form a higher percentage (76.7%) of Arkansas’s overall population.

Map 1: Average Mortality Rate for the Population of Arkansas by County (2017-2019)

Map 1 shows the total mortality rates for Arkansas’s counties. The data was aggregated from 2017-2019 to address discrepancies from small population groups and remove counties from which information was unattainable or skewed. The state’s mortality rates ranged from 7.02 per 1,000 residents in Benton County to just over 17 per 1,000 in Monroe County. Comparing county mortality rates with median age data reveal the 15 counties with the lowest median ages have mortality rates below the state average and that 10 of the 15 counties with the highest median age rank among those counties with the highest mortality rates.

Map 2: Average Mortality Rate for the White Population of Arkansas by County (2017-2019)

Map 2 shows that Benton County’s mortality rate of 8.89 is the lowest for the state’s non-Hispanic White population, and Monroe County’s ratio of 20.92 is the highest. Counties with the highest mortality rates for White residents are in the Delta and southern parts of the state and several counties in north-central Arkansas, clustered around Fulton County, a popular retirement area.

Map 3: Average Mortality Rate for the Black and African American Population of Arkansas by County (2017-2019)

Mortality rates for the state’s Black residents, shown in Map 3, range from 2.12 in Benton County to 16.11. in Calhoun County. Counties with the highest mortality rates are concentrated mostly in the Delta and Southern regions of Arkansas. Many of these same counties have relatively low median incomes.

Map 4: Average Mortality Rate for the Hispanic Population of Arkansas by County (2017-2019)

Hispanic residents have low mortality rates compared to the other population groups in Arkansas. The low ratios for Hispanic residents, which range from 0.39 to 6.32, according to Map 4, are probably linked to the fact that the state’s Hispanic population has a median age of about 25 and represents just 7.5% of the total population.

Map 5: Average Mortality Rate for the Asian, Pacific Islander, and Native American Population of Arkansas by County (2017-2019)

The mortality rates for the rest of Arkansas’s population, primarily Asians, Pacific Islanders, and Native Americans, are shown in Map 5. For counties where data was available, mortality rates for this group range between 1.05 to 8.15. Like the mortality rates for Hispanics, these relatively low ratios are likely attributable to the group’s small population and median age.

Additional links: