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Tracking the reach of COVID-19 kin loss with a bereavement multiplier applied to the United States

Resource type
Journal Article
Authors/contributors
Title
Tracking the reach of COVID-19 kin loss with a bereavement multiplier applied to the United States
Abstract
The coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic has led to a large increase in mortality in the United States and around the world, leaving many grieving the sudden loss of family members. We created an indicator—the COVID-19 bereavement multiplier—that estimates the average number of individuals who will experience the death of a close relative (defined as a grandparent, parent, sibling, spouse, or child) for each COVID-19 death. Using demographic microsimulation-based estimates of kinship networks in the United States, the clear age gradient in COVID-19 mortality seen across contexts, and several hypothetical infection prevalence scenarios, we estimate COVID-19 bereavement multipliers for White and Black individuals in the United States. Our analysis shows that for every COVID-19 death, approximately nine surviving Americans will lose a grandparent, parent, sibling, spouse, or child. These estimates imply, for example, that if 190,000 Americans die from COVID-19, as some models project, then ∼1.7 million will experience the death of a close relative. We demonstrate that our estimates of the bereavement multiplier are stable across epidemiological realities, including infection scenarios, total number of deaths, and the distribution of deaths, which means researchers can estimate the bereavement burden over the course of the epidemic in lockstep with rising death tolls. In addition, we provide estimates of bereavement multipliers by age group, types of kin loss, and race to illuminate prospective disparities. The bereavement multiplier is a useful indicator for tracking COVID-19’s multiplicative impact as it reverberates across American families and can be tailored to other causes of death.
Publication
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences
Volume
117
Issue
30
Pages
17695-17701
Date
2020/07/28
Journal Abbr
PNAS
Language
en
DOI
10.1073/pnas.2007476117
ISSN
0027-8424, 1091-6490
Accessed
2020-08-12T17:21:56Z
Library Catalog
Rights
Copyright © 2020 the Author(s). Published by PNAS.. https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/This open access article is distributed under Creative Commons Attribution License 4.0 (CC BY).
Extra
Publisher: National Academy of Sciences Section: Social Sciences PMID: 32651279
Citation
Verdery, A. M., Smith-Greenaway, E., Margolis, R., & Daw, J. (2020). Tracking the reach of COVID-19 kin loss with a bereavement multiplier applied to the United States. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 117(30), 17695–17701. https://doi.org/10.1073/pnas.2007476117