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3302.0 - Deaths, Australia, 1997  
Previous ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 23/12/1998   
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MEDIA RELEASE

December 23, 1999
Embargoed: 11:30 AM (AEST)
157/1998

Australians among the most long-lived - ABS

    Australians are among the most long-lived people in the world, with life expectancies approaching those born in Japan, Sweden, Hong Kong and Switzerland, according to figures released today by the Australian Bureau of Statistics.

    A baby boy born in Australia today could expect to live for 75.6 years, while a baby girl could expect to live for 81.3 years. Over the last 25 years, life expectancy at birth has increased by about 8 years for males, and 7 years for females.

    Australian babies have a better chance of survival than at any time in our history. In 1997, the infant mortality rate was the lowest ever recorded, at 5.8 deaths per 1,000 live births for boys and 4.9 for girls. It has fallen by an average of almost 5% per year over the last 10 years, and is among the lowest in the world. The experience of some other countries such as Japan, which has an infant mortality rate of 4.6 for boys and 3.9 for girls, suggests that further improvements are still possible.

    Even though Australia's population is both increasing and ageing, resulting in an increase in the number of deaths, the death rates for people of almost all ages are falling.

    Births still outnumber deaths by about two-to-one. In 1997, there were 129,400 deaths, compared to 252,100 births, resulting in natural increase of 123,000. In contrast, net overseas migration contributed only 76,400 new residents to the population.

    Almost all migrant groups have lower death rates, regardless of the time when they arrived in Australia. People from the 10 largest birthplace groups, which include the United Kingdom, Italy, Viet Nam, Greece, China and Germany, have significantly lower death rates than the Australian-born population.

    In 1997, deaths of people aged 65 years and over accounted for 78% of all deaths. The most common causes of death were either heart disease (28%) or cancer (27%). External causes, which include motor vehicle accidents, falls, drowning and suicide, accounted for 6% of all deaths.

    At every age, men were more likely to die than women. However, married men had a much greater chance of survival than unmarried men. Married women also enjoyed lower death rates than their unmarried counterparts, but the differences were not as great as those between married and never married men. Going against the trend for almost every age, death rates for men aged 27-37 years have increased over the last 15 years. This reflects an increasing proportion of men in this group who have never married.

    People living in most States and Territories have similar death rates to Australia as a whole. The exceptions are the Northern Territory, where the high proportion of Indigenous residents contributed to a rate 58% above the national average, and Tasmania, which was 10% above the national average. South Australia, the State with the oldest age structure, had the highest median age at death (78.1 years). In contrast, the Northern Territory had the lowest median age at death (57 years).

    Copies of the publication Deaths, Australia, 1997 (cat. no. 3302.0) are available from ABS bookshops. Main Features of the publication are available from this site.



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