# How to compare proportions across different groups with varying population sizes?

I am trying to understand what statistical measures I can use to compare three groups having varying populations to understand which group is bad (highest probability of death or most vulnerable or weakest or whatever measure of strength is suitable) and which group is good.

Total Population
------------------
Group A: 100
Group B: 150
Group C: 50
Group D: 900


Over the course of one year, I have recorded the following information:

Group    Deaths
----------------
A        40
B        60
C        20
D        360


I was thinking I could just calculate the probability of deaths by diving the numbers in the second table by the numbers in the first. This made sense based on the definition of probability. However, I am not sure if there is a better way to do this. Group D had almost a population of 900 which makes me think that the confidence in estimating the probability is higher whereas for Group C, we don't really have enough data to make any conclusions.

In this case, Group C and Group D had population sizes differing the order of hundreds yet we get the same probability of death for both groups leading us to conclude that Group C and Group D have the same properties (whatever they are). How do I deal with this problem (if it is a problem in the first place)? Is there another level of normalization (besides dividing a number by its group population)?

Note: If it helps, I have data on when each individual died (approximate time) in the following form:

Death_Date Group
------------------
2011-01-23 Group A
2011-01-23 Group A
2011-01-25 Group A
...
2011-01-25 Group C
...

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If your groups are indeed populations - not samples - then "confidence in estimating the probability" is absolute for all groups and data are always enough to make conclusions. –  ttnphns Aug 17 '11 at 7:16
Thank you for your comment. Yes. Indeed they are not samples but populations. So from what I understand, you're saying that this is indeed the only way to do it and I can make conclusions based on this data alone? –  Legend Aug 17 '11 at 7:50
What you appear to be touching on here, is Survival Analysis, which is a whole branch of statistics. You should read up on that first. –  Nick Sabbe Aug 17 '11 at 7:57
@Nick: No wonder, there's no straight forward answer to this. Thank you for pointing me to it. –  Legend Aug 17 '11 at 20:17