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Life expectancy at birth is a measure of how long someone born in a particular year might expect to live if mortality patterns for that year remained unchanged over their lifetime. It is one of the most widely used indicators of population health. It focuses on length of life rather than its quality, but provides a useful summary of the health of the population.
Australian life expectancy improved during the decade 1996 to 2006. A boy born in 2006 could expect to live to be 79, while a girl could expect to reach 83 - increases of three years and two years respectively. Women tend to live longer than men, and this is reflected in the differences in life expectancy throughout the 20th century. Although a girl born in 2006 could still expect to live longer than a boy, in recent years life expectancy at birth has increased more quickly for males than for females.
While Australians are living longer than ever before, there is a good deal of debate about whether life expectancy will continue to increase. However, there is no doubt that there is more room for improvement among some groups of the population compared to others. In particular, life expectancy for Indigenous Australians, both male and female, is estimated to be about 17 years shorter than that of all Australians (see Endnote 2).
EDUCATION AND TRAINING
For technical information see Endnote 3.
Source: ABS data available on request, Survey of Education and Work.
Education and training help people to develop knowledge and skills that may be used to enhance their own living standards and those of the broader community. For an individual, educational attainment is widely seen as a key factor in obtaining a rewarding career. For the nation, having a skilled workforce is vital to support ongoing economic development and improvements in living conditions.
The indicator shown is the proportion of the population aged 25-64 years with a non-school qualification (e.g. university or college education, see Endnote 3), and this has risen over the last decade. Between 1997 and 2007, the proportion of 25–64 year olds with a non-school qualification rose from 46% to 59%, continuing a trend seen for many decades.
The increase in the proportion of people with non-school qualifications is mainly being driven by the substantial increase in the proportion of people with a higher education qualification (e.g. a Bachelor degree or above). Between 1997 and 2007, the proportion of people aged 25-64 years with a Bachelor degree or higher level qualification increased from 16% to 24%. Over the same period, the proportion of people whose highest qualification was a vocational qualification (e.g. an Advanced diploma or diploma or below) increased from 30% to 34%.
For technical information see Endnote 4.
Source: Australian Labour Market Statistics (cat. no. 6105.0);
Labour Force, Australia, Spreadsheets (cat. no. 6202.0.55.001).
Paid work is the way most people obtain the economic resources needed for day to day living, for themselves and their dependants, and to meet their longer term financial needs. Having paid work contributes to a person’s sense of identity and self-esteem. People's involvement in paid work also contributes to economic growth and development.
The unemployment rate has been chosen as the headline indicator, because of its relevance to the economic and social aspects of work. This rate is the number of unemployed people expressed as a percentage of the labour force, and is a widely used measure of underutilised labour resources in the economy. The graph also includes the labour force underutilisation rate. This is the number of unemployed and underemployed people, expressed as a proportion of the labour force (see Endnote 4). The labour force underutilisation rate gives a broader view of labour underutilisation than the unemployment rate.
Measures of underutilised labour such as the unemployment rate are sensitive to changes in the economy. In 1997, the annual average unemployment rate was 8.3%. Since then it has generally fallen and the annual unemployment rate was 4.4% in 2007. The labour force underutilisation rate fell from 13.6% in 1997 to 8.9% in 2007.
1. Data are three-year averages, with the year shown being the last year of the three-year period.
2. See: Steering Committee for the Review of Government Service Provision 2007, Overcoming Indigenous Disadvantage: Key Indicators 2007, Productivity Commission, Canberra, viewed 11 December 2007.
3. Data relate to the person's highest non-school qualification only, and some people may have more than one qualification. Components do not sum to the total as the total with non-school qualifications includes those where the level could not be determined.
Qualifications are defined as formal certifications, issued by a relevant approved body, in recognition that a person has achieved learning outcomes or competencies relevant to identified individual, professional, industry or community needs. Statements of attainment awarded for partial completion of a course of study at a particular level are excluded.
Non-school qualifications are awarded for educational attainments other than those of pre-primary, primary or secondary education. They include higher education qualifications (e.g. Postgraduate degree, Graduate diploma) and vocational education qualifications (e.g. Certificates I, II, III and IV). Collectively, this group of qualifications is referred to as non-school qualifications instead of post-school qualifications because students can study for vocational qualifications while attending high school.
The level of education classification contains several levels of non-school qualifications. For the purposes of this indicator these have been combined into two groups:
4. The unemployment rate is the number of unemployed people expressed as a percentage of the labour force (employed plus unemployed people). The annual rates shown are the average of each month's unemployment rates, over the 12 months of the calendar year. Original data (rather than trend or seasonally adjusted data) have been used. Unemployment rates for each month can be obtained from Labour Force, Australia, Spreadsheets (cat. no. 6202.0.55.001).
The labour force underutilisation rate is the number of people who are either unemployed or underemployed (defined below), expressed as a proportion of the labour force. It relates to September each year. Labour force underutilisation rates for September of each year can be obtained from Labour Market Statistics, Australia (cat. no. 6105.0).
People who are unemployed or underemployed are defined as follows:
Australian Bureau of Statistics 2007, Deaths, Australia, 2006, cat. no. 3302.0, ABS, Canberra.
Steering Committee for the Review of Government Service Provision 2007, Overcoming Indigenous Disadvantage: Key Indicators 2007, Productivity Commission, Canberra.
Education and training
Australian Bureau of Statistics 2007, Education and Work, Australia, May 2007, cat. no. 6227.0, ABS, Canberra.
Australian Bureau of Statistics 2008, Labour Force, Australia, Spreadsheets, cat. no. 6202.0.55.001, ABS, Canberra.
Australian Bureau of Statistics 2008, Australian Labour Market Statistics, April 2008, cat. no. 6105.0, ABS, Canberra.
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