Study of 2021 Kansas health statistics finds slight increase in abortion rate, marriages

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Kansans also experience significant increase in opioid-related accidental death cases

TOPEKA — Kansans had fewer homicides, more marriages and higher numbers of drug-related deaths in 2021, a recently released summary of the year’s statistics found. 

Heart disease remained the leading cause of death for Kansans in 2021, followed by cancer, according to the Kansas Department of Health and Environment’s 2021 summary, which was released Dec. 21.  

“The Kansas Annual Summary of Vital Statistics report contains information on births, deaths, marriages, divorces and more,” State Registrar Kay Haug said in a news release about the summary. “It is a valuable tool for public health program evaluation and community health assessment.”

In a review of 2021 Kansas data, there was a slight decrease in recorded deaths and a slight increase in the birth rate. Kansas had 31,637 recorded resident deaths in 2021, compared with 31,667 deaths in 2020. The 2021 death count is significantly higher than the 2019 death count, which showed 27,312 recorded deaths, and officials attribute the difference to the effect of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. 

In 2021, Kansas also saw the highest number of drug-related deaths recorded in the last 20 years, with opioid cases almost doubling between 2020 and 2021. Opioids were involved in 416 of the cases, compared with 239 similar cases in 2020. The number of accidental deaths caused by drugs rose from 432 in 2020 to 635 in 2021. Psychostimulants, including amphetamine and methamphetamine cases, accounted for 277 cases in 2021. 

Kansas resident deaths from suicide also rose slightly between 2020 and 2021, rising from 529 to 555. In 84.1% of these cases, the victim was male, with most suicides occurring in the 25-34 age group. Firearms accounted for 344 of those deaths. 

Resident homicide deaths decreased slightly in 2021, falling from 197 in 2020 to 182 in 2021. The majority of these deaths were committed with firearms. 

Kansan marriages were also slightly up in 2021, with 15,656 marriages occurring in the state, an increase of 11.5% from 2020. Records show Kansans are getting married later in life, with only 3.8% of brides and 1.9% of grooms under the age of 20 in 2021.  The average age of all brides in this time period was 31.9 years old, with the age of grooms being 33.8 years old. 

In 2021, 5,368 marriage dissolutions, meaning divorces and annulments, occurred, an increase of 3.8% from 2020. 

Kansas resident mothers had a slight increase in the number of live births in 2021, going from 34,368 in 2020 to 34,697 in 2021. 

In 2021, Kansas residents had 3,937 abortions, only four of which were performed out of state. Nonresidents had 3,912 abortions performed in Kansas. The 2021 abortion ratio for Kansas residents was 7% higher than in 2020, with 113.5 abortions per 1,000 live births, compared with 106.1 abortions per 1,000 live births in 2020. Compared to 2002, the abortion ratio fell by 29.1%. In 2002, the abortion ratio was 160.1 abortions per 1,000 live births. 

Seventy-one percent of these Kansas resident abortions happened before nine weeks of gestation, with the highest ratio of abortions occurring in residents under the age of 15 (466.7 abortions per 1,000 live births). More than 85% of the recorded abortions were performed on unmarried patients. 

The total population estimate for Kansas in 2021 was calculated to be 2,934,582, increasing by 20,777  from the 2020 Kansas total population estimate. Kansas population density was 35.9 inhabitants per square mile in 2021, compared to the national population density of 94 people per square mile in 2021. 

In this time period, 37 of the 105 Kansas counties had a population density of less than 6 people per square mile. The least-populated counties were Greeley and Wallace, with a density of 1.7  people per square mile. Johnson County had the highest density, with 1,295.4 people per square mile. 

Kansas Reflector is part of States Newsroom, a network of news bureaus supported by grants and a coalition of donors as a 501c(3) public charity. Kansas Reflector maintains editorial independence. Contact Editor Sherman Smith for questions: Follow Kansas Reflector on Facebook and Twitter.

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