More name changes, less immigration: The surprising (and unsurprising) stats from Denmark’s Covid-19 crisis

A new publication from Statistics Denmark (DST) has shed light on a number of population trends during the coronavirus epidemic in the Scandinavian country.

More name changes, less immigration: The surprising (and unsurprising) stats from Denmark's Covid-19 crisis
File photo: Niels Christian Vilmann/Ritzau Scanpix

While closed borders unsurprisingly resulted in fewer people moving to Denmark, other statistics are less predictable — such as a significant increase in the number of people who changed their first names.

The publication, “Covid-19 i befolknings- og kriminalitetsstatistikken i 2020” (Covid-19 in population and crime statistics in 2020) was released by the agency on Wednesday.

Last year saw 29 percent more people change their first names than the average for the period 2015-2019, according to the report.

“Why the lockdown apparently has affected the number of name changes, we can only speculate about. But since the trend in 2020 was so marked, we have decided to include it in this publication,” DST writes in the report.

A total of 5,932 people changed their first names in 2020. The average for the preceding 5 years was around 4,600 name changes annually.

The majority of those who decided to change their names were women, who comprise 3,827 of the 5,932 alterations.

Most of the changes took place in months after the initial coronavirus lockdown in March 2020, according to DST.

Meanwhile, the total number of foreigners who immigrated to Denmark fell in 2020 by 30 percent. For April and May, the decrease was as high as 81 and 77 percent respectively.

Emigration’s also fell last year, by 13 percent.

The number of Danes who moved back home increased by 84 percent in March as the government encouraged its foreign based nationals to return home. But the overall level of returning Danes was similar to that in previous years.

The population grew by 0.29 percent throughout the year, or around 17,000 people. That is a similar rate to the one recorded in 2019, but slightly under the average of 0.5 percent for the prior 5 years.

Lower immigration (due to travel restrictions) is the likeliest cause for this drop, DST writes.

Divorces increased by five percent compared to the average rate for the years 2015-2019.

That number could reflect a strain on households caused by home working and lockdowns introduced in response to the pandemic.

Another statistic which is perhaps easier to directly connect to the fact people were at home more is the drop in break-ins.

As many as 29 percent fewer homes were broken into in 2020 compared to the preceding five-year average.

A total of 54,645 people died in Denmark last year, a slightly higher figure than that for 2019, which stood at 53,958. Seen as a measure of population size, the death rate remained stable at approximately 10 deaths per 1,000 residents in the country.

But DST found that deaths were notably higher in the winter months of late 2020 and early 2021 than they were 12 months prior.

For both years, more people died in wintertime than during the summer, which is an established trend.

The relatively high number of deaths during the 2020/21 winter season “could possibly be related to the Covid-19 pandemic,” the DST report states.

January 2021 was the month in which Denmark recorded the highest number of deaths related to Covid-19, with 817 registered during that month. December 2020 was the second highest, with 490.

READ ALSO: Denmark expects twice as many people over 80 years old in 2050

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Denmark’s Covid-19 hospitalisation figure ‘could reach 750’ in December

The number of people hospitalised with Covid-19 in Denmark could increase to 750 this month, according to a projection from an official expert group.

Danish Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen and senior health officials visit a vaccination centre at Copenhagen Central Station on December 3rd.
Danish Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen and senior health officials visit a vaccination centre at Copenhagen Central Station on December 3rd. Photo: Philip Davali/Ritzau Scanpix

The expert group for mathematical modelling, which is attached to the national infectious disease agency State Serum Institute (SSI), released the estimate on Friday.

As of Friday afternoon, 449 patients with Covid-19 are admitted to hospitals in Denmark. The figure has been increasing in recent weeks but is still some way short of the peak hospitalisation figures from the winter 2020 wave, which exceeded 900.

“There are not catastrophic conditions yet but we have a combination of a tangible lack of nurses combined with this strain (of high patient numbers). It is clearly putting pressure on hospitals,” Kasper Karmark Iversen, senior medical consultant and professor at the University of Copenhagen and Herlev-Gentofte Hospital, told news wire Ritzau earlier this week.

The mathematical expert group calculates possible scenarios in which coronavirus restrictions could be phased out.

“The projections show a continued increase in the number of hospitalisations,” said the head of the group, Camilla Holten Møller.

“New hospitalisations of 70-200 per day and 550-750 in hospital (in total) are estimated up to the middle of December,” Møller said.

The figure for new hospitalisations does not account for discharged patients and therefore does not reflect the overall change in the total number of patients in hospital with Covid-19.

The expert group also predicts between 3,400 and 8,300 new cases of the virus daily by the middle of December. The group notes that its projections do not take into account the vaccination drive launched by the government this week. They also only partly account for anti-infection measures already in place, such as Covid-19 health pass (coronapas) requirements and face mask rules.

A total of 4,559 new Covid-19 cases were reported in SSI’s daily update on Friday. The total comes from 196,932 PCR tests, giving a positivity rate of 2.32 percent.

Daily cases have now been over 4,000 for six consecutive days. Friday’s positivity rate is a little lower than the typical rate seen this week, which is closer to 2.50.