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Risk of dying abroad

Bottom line

The odds of dying whilst abroad for a US citizen in 2007, were 1 in 449,510. The highest risk was as a result of an automobile accident (1 in 2,250,904) and the lowest risk was of execution (1 in 100,540,386).

Data sources

US Department of State (

US Census Bureau (

What the sources tell us

The total number of non-natural deaths of US citizens abroad in 2007 was 671:

The total number of US citizens in 2007 was 301,621,157

Give us the odds

The odds of an average US citizen dying abroad from a non-natural cause are 1 in 449,510, made up of:

Annual risk of death abroad for US citizen

Risk Communication Tool (c) John Paling 2000 (



These were the only easily available data we could find to try to answer this question, posed by a reader. There are a number of caveats. First, these figures do not include casualties of war. Again, the data are for the USA, where a surprisingly small proportion of the population travels abroad, especially compared with western European countries, where not only do many more people travel abroad, but many more older people travel.

Citizens of the United States should travel more, perhaps. Certainly there is little to be feared from the risk of dying. Lounging at home probably has no less risk. The range of risks from death in a road traffic accident to that of death by execution are way at the bottom of the risk scale.