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The total number of deaths from every possible cause is called All cause mortality. About 57 million people died in 2002, 10.5 million (or nearly 20%) of whom were children less than 5 years of age. Of these child deaths, 98% occurred in poorer territories. Over 60% of deaths in rich territories are people over 70 years old; 30% of deaths in poorer territories are those of people over 70 years old. Apart from the deaths of children, many deaths in poorer territories are of adults aged between 15 and 59 years. Just over 30% of all deaths in poorer territories occur at these ages, compared to 20% in richer regions. This vast child and premature adult mortality in poorer territories is a major public health concern, and has both social and economic consequences.

Poorer territories are a heterogeneous group in terms of mortality. Contrasting poor territories such as China (with more than one-sixth of the world's population) with reasonable life expectancy (average 71 years) and the many very poor territories in Africa (with one-tenth of the global population) with low life expectancy (average 51 years) illustrates the extreme diversity in health conditions experienced in poorer regions. Less than 10% of all deaths in China occur below age 5 years compared with 40% in Africa. Conversely, 48% of deaths in China occur beyond age 70 years, whereas only 10% in Africa do.

Territories are sized in proportion to the absolute number of people who died in one year.

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