The Alaska Department of Health logo and other information about the author organization behind the Alaska Vital Statistics 2021 Annual Report are seen in this screenshot of the front cover of the report. (Photo courtesy Alaska Department of Health)

The Alaska Department of Health logo and other information about the author organization behind the Alaska Vital Statistics 2021 Annual Report are seen in this screenshot of the front cover of the report. (Photo courtesy Alaska Department of Health)

DOH: Fewer births, more deaths in 2021 than in 2020

Average life expectancy has fallen in Alaska as more people are dying and fewer are being born, according to the state Department of Health. Marriages are up and separations are down.

The 2021 Vital Statistics Report from the State Department of Health was published last week, reporting slightly fewer births in 2021 than in 2020, and a larger increase in the number of deaths — partnered with a decrease in the average life expectancy from 80 to 77.5.

The purpose of the Vital Statistics Report is to monitor trends in the number and rate of births and deaths, as well as the types of diseases and injuries that result in deaths. Information is collected constantly as birth certificates, death certificates, marriage licenses and other indicating documents are filed with the state.

The report shows that in 2021, 9,410 Alaska residents gave birth, for a fertility rate of 64.3 births per 1,000 women aged 15-44. In 2020, there were 9,479 births with a fertility rate of 65.5.

This year, the most popular name for newborn girls was Amelia, while the most popular name for boys came to a tie between Noah and Oliver.

In 2021, there were 6,216 resident deaths — up from 5,183 in 2020. The top five leading causes of death in the state were malignant neoplasms, which claimed 1,091 lives; heart diseases, which claimed 1,011 lives; COVID-19, which claimed 762 lives; accidents, which took 591; and cerebrovascular diseases, at 253.

Other mortality incidences highlighted in the report include alcohol-induced death, drug-induced death and firearm deaths.

Alcohol-induced death includes alcohol poisoning and alcoholic liver disease — which resulted in 315 deaths in 2021, up from 242 in 2020.

Drugs were indicated in 272 deaths in 2021, up from 179 in 2020. Opioids, including fentanyl, were involved in 199 deaths last year, up from 112 in 2020. Psychostimulants, including methamphetamine, were involved in 163 deaths, up from 70 in 2020.

Firearms were involved in 182 deaths last year, with 142 being intentional self-harm and 31 being homicide. These numbers are all up from 2020 when there were 175 firearm-related deaths — 133 being self-harm and 27 being homicides.

Infant and fetal deaths were slightly higher in 2021 than in 2020, but not by a large margin.

There were more marriages in 2021 than in 2020, with 4,635 in 2021 and 4,169 in 2020. Despite an increase in marriages, the number of separations fell — 2,286 in 2021 compared to 2,395 in 2020.

Reach reporter Jake Dye at

More in News

The Homer Spit is evacuated during the July 28 tsunami warning at about 10:50 p.m. (Photo by Sarah Knapp/Homer News)
Tsunami warning test scheduled for Wednesday morning

The National Weather Service will conduct a statewide test of the tsunami… Continue reading

A mock up of the Soldotna Field House. (Photo via City of Soldotna)
Soldotna designates field house funds

Construction of a field house in Soldotna took a step forward last… Continue reading

Rep. Ben Carpenter, R-Nikiski, speaks during a meeting of the House State Affairs committee on Tuesday, March 28, 2023 in Juneau, Alaska. (Mark Sabbatini/Juneau Empire)
Carpenter, Ruffridge target state finances

The central Kenai Peninsula’s representatives in the Alaska House of Representatives have… Continue reading

COVID-19. (Image courtesy CDC)
COVID-19: Local cases fall after last week’s spike

After a spike of 50 new COVID-19 cases was reported in the… Continue reading

A tripod set by the Soldotna and Kenai Rotary Clubs stands over the ice of the Kenai River in Soldotna, Alaska on Tuesday, March 28, 2023. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)
Local Rotary Clubs testing new contest for next winter

The Rotary Clubs of Soldotna and Kenai are performing a test in… Continue reading

Alaska State Troopers logo.
State Trooper convicted of attempted sexual abuse of a minor

Vance Peronto, formerly an Alaska State Trooper based in Soldotna, was convicted… Continue reading

Soldotna City Hall is seen on Wednesday, June 23, 2021 in Soldotna, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)
Soldotna moves ahead with staff recruitment strategies

Soldotna City Council members last week gave city administration a thumbs up… Continue reading

State representatives Tom McKay, R-Anchorage, and Andi Story, D-Juneau, offering competing amendments to a bill increasing the per-student funding formula for public schools by $1,250 during a House Education Committee meeting Wednesday morning. McKay’s proposal to lower the increase to $150 was defeated. Story’s proposal to implement an increase during the next two years was approved, after her proposed amounts totalling about $1,500 were reduced to $800.
Borough, Soldotna call on Legislature to increase school funding

The City of Soldotna last week became the latest entity to call… Continue reading

Kenai River Brown Bears goalie Nils Wallstrom celebrates winning a shootout over the Fairbanks Ice Dogs on Saturday, March 25, 2023, at the Soldotna Regional Sports Complex in Soldotna, Alaska. (Photo by Jeff Helminiak/Peninsula Clarion)
Brown Bears sweep Ice Dogs, move into 3rd place

The Kenai River Brown Bears earned a two-game sweep over the Fairbanks… Continue reading

Most Read