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South Dakota Mortality Rates

Mortality Rates in South Dakota

Mortality Rates in South Dakota

  • South Dakota Population: 884,659 (46th highest)
  • Population Density: 11.78 per square mile (45th most dense)
  • Median Age:  37.6 (39th oldest)
  • Deaths Per Year:  7,971 per year
  • Annual Deaths Per 100,000: 903.5
  • Life Expectancy at Birth:  78.9
  • Fertility Rate (births per 1,000 women age 15-44):  70.6 (1st highest rate)

Leading Causes of Death in South Dakota

Cause of Death Deaths Per Year Deaths Per 100,000 National Rank
Heart Disease


1,840 158.1 19th


1,737 153.4 14th
Chronic Lower Respiratory Diseases (e.g., emphysema, chronic bronchitis, asthma)


521 45.1 18th
Accidents (includes vehicle accidents)


517 53.3 27th
Alzheimer’s Disease


495 40.5 7th


372 32.2 6th


287 26.8 6th
Pneumonia + Flu


187 15.9 8th
Liver Disease / Cirrhosis


154 17.1 3rd


122 11 8th
Kidney Disease (nephritis, nephrosis, nephrotic syndrome)


72 6.2 48th


182 20.9 7th
Drug Overdose


86 10.5 49th


29 3.6 33rd

Population Statistics

South Dakota has the 5th lowest population among U.S. states, and only four states have a lower population density (Alaska, Wyoming, Montana, and North Dakota). However, South Dakota has the nation’s highest fertility rate (tied with North Dakota), and its population grew at a rate of 8.7% from 2010 to 2019—14th fastest in the nation.

With a median age of 37.2, South Dakota is the nation’s 12th youngest state. South Dakota’s average life expectancy at birth of 78.9 years is tied with Florida for 21st

South Dakota’s rates of Cesarean delivery and low birthweight births are 4th and 9th lowest in the nation, respectively.

Health Conditions

South Dakota is among the ten states with the highest rates of multiple health-related causes of death—including stroke, diabetes, liver disease, and septicemia (blood-poisoning illnesses). South Dakota has the nation’s 3rd lowest rate of kidney disease.

Unfortunately, many of these conditions can prevent one from being able to qualify for many of the no exam term life insurance policies available.

The good news is that many applicants with pre-existing medical conditions like these will still be able to qualify for fully underwritten life insurance policies and guaranteed issue life insurance policies.

Drugs and Alcohol 

At 10.5 deaths per 100,000 population, South Dakota’s drug overdose death rate is the nation’s 2nd lowest (behind only Nebraska). However, South Dakota’s rate of excessive alcohol consumption is the nation’s 4th


For 2020, South Dakota’s COVID-19 death rate, at 128.3 per 100,000, was 3rd highest (behind New Jersey and New York). Through August, 2021, South Dakota’s rate dropped to 10th highest—at 231 per 100,000.

Homicide, Firearms and Suicide

South Dakota’s firearm mortality rate of 13.1 per 100,000 is tied with North Dakota for 23rd South Dakota has the nation’s 18th lowest homicide rate but is 7th highest in suicides.


South Dakota’s occupational fatality rate of 7.4 deaths per 100,000 workers was 7th highest in the U.S. for 2020.

Accidental Deaths

In 2019, South Dakota had the nation’s 5th highest rate of accidental deaths due to falls. The state’s 23.2 per 100,000 population was behind only Wisconsin, Maine, Vermont, and West Virginia.


U.S. Dept of Ag., Economic Research Service, https://data.ers.usda.gov/reports.aspx?ID=17827 (citing U.S. Census Bureau, 2019).

Statista, Population Density in the U.S. by Federal States Including District of Columbia in 2020 (2020).

StatsAmerica (Ind. Bus. Research Center), Median Age in 2019.

CDC, Natl. Center for Health Statistics, State & Territorial Data (2018 – 2019).

CDC, Natl. Center for Health Statistics, Life Expectancy at Birth by State (2018).

CDC, Natl. Center for Health Statistics, Fertility Rates by State (2019).

CDC, Natl. Center for Health Statistics, Stats of the States (2021).

CDC, Natl. Center for Health Statistics, Provisional Death Rates for COVID-19 (2020).

New York Times, Coronavirus in the U.S.: Latest Map and Case Count (Aug. 4, 2021).

Natl. Safety Council, State Overview Table: 2019 (preventable-injury-related death rates per 100,000 population by state of residence, United States, 2019).

United Health Foundation, America’s Health Rankings, 2020 Annual Report: South Dakota.

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