As a demographer — someone who studies how human populations grow and change — UCLA professor of sociology Patrick Heuveline typically spends time each year traveling around the world, talking to people about their hopes for their families and their dreams for the future.
“Demography is obviously all about numbers — but at its core, it’s about people’s lives,” he said.
A big part of understanding demographics is understanding mortality, which is why in 2020 Heuveline’s research took on a grim new reality. He began tracking worldwide COVID-19 deaths and interpreting what those numbers mean to overall life expectancy.
This month marks a somber milestone in the pandemic: one year since the U.S. recorded its first COVID-19–related deaths. As of the end of March, more than 2.8 million around the world, including more than 550,000 Americans, have died of causes related to COVID-19.