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1301.0 - Year Book Australia, 2008  
Previous ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 07/02/2008   
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Contents >> Population >> Deaths

DEATHS

In 2005, 130,700 deaths (67,200 males and 63,500 females) were registered in Australia, compared with 132,500 deaths registered in 2004. This represents a decrease of 1,800 deaths (or 1.4%). Since 1985 the number of deaths registered increased by an average of 0.5% per year, with year-to-year fluctuations. The steady increase in the number of deaths over time reflects the increasing size of the population, and in particular, the increasing number of older people. With the continued ageing of the population the number of deaths is projected to increase, with deaths outnumbering births in 2044.

Despite the ageing of the population over the last 20 years, death rates have continued to decline, and in turn, declining death rates for older people have contributed to ageing in Australia. The crude death rate declined from 7.5 deaths per 1,000 population in 1985 to 6.4 deaths per 1,000 population in 2005. Against the background of an older population, this fall indicates a considerable decline in age-specific death rates over the period. The standardised death rate, which eliminates the effect of the changing age structure of the population, was the lowest on record at 6.1 deaths per 1,000 standard population in 2005, slightly lower than in 2004 (6.4) and down by 37.8% from 1985 (9.8).


Life expectancy

Life expectancy is the average number of additional years a person of a given age and sex might expect to live if the age-specific death rates of the given period - for example, the three years 2003 to 2005 - were to continue throughout his or her remaining lifetime.

Over the last century, male life expectancy at birth increased by 23.3 years, from 55.2 years in 1901-10 to 78.5 years in 2003-05. Female life expectancy at birth increased by 24.5 years, from 58.8 years to 83.3 years in 2003-05 (graph 7.33). The increase in life expectancy at birth is due to declining death rates at all ages.

7.33 Life expectancy at birth
Graph: 7.33 Life expectancy at birth

Improvements in living conditions in the early-20th century, such as better water supply, sewerage systems, food quality and health education resulted in an overall decline in mortality. The continuing reduction in mortality in the latter half of last century is attributed to improving social conditions and advances in medical technology such as mass immunisation and antibiotics. The past two decades in particular have seen further increases in life expectancy. These increases are due in part to lower infant mortality, fewer deaths among young adults from motor vehicle accidents and fewer deaths among older men from heart disease. The reduction in the number of deaths from heart disease has been related to medical advances and behavioural changes such as improvements in diet and a reduction in smoking.

During the 20th century life expectancy of new-born girls was consistently higher than that of new-born boys, with the difference peaking at about seven years in the 1970s and early-1980s. The difference was largely due to the significant decline in heart disease, stroke and respiratory disease mortality among women. In recent years the gap in life expectancy between new-born males and females narrowed to around five years. This can be attributed to the large reductions in death rates of males aged 45 years and over, and particularly to the reduction in heart disease deaths among males.

The increase in life expectancy for older persons has implications for retirement planning and income policies. Life expectancy of 65 year olds increased from 14 years for males and 18 years for females in 1985, to 18 years for males and 21 years for females in 2003-05.

7.34 EXPECTATION OF LIFE(a)

Males
Females
At exact age (years)
years
years

0
78.5
83.3
10
69.0
73.8
20
59.2
63.9
30
49.7
54.1
40
40.2
44.4
50
31.0
34.9
60
22.2
25.7
70
14.4
17.2
80
8.2
9.9
90
4.2
4.9
100
2.5
2.8

(a) Calculated using data for the three years 2003-05.
Source: Deaths, Australia (3302.0).


7.35 SELECTED SUMMARY MEASURES OF MORTALITY

Life expectancy at birth(a)
Registered deaths
Crude death rate(b)
Infant mortality rate(c)
Males
Females
'000
no.
no.
years
years

1995
125.1
6.9
18.0
75.4
81.1
1996
128.7
7.0
18.5
75.5
81.3
1997
129.4
7.0
17.2
75.6
81.3
1998
127.2
6.8
16.0
75.9
81.5
1999
128.1
6.8
18.1
76.2
81.8
2000
128.3
6.7
16.7
76.6
82.0
2001
128.5
6.6
17.4
77.0
82.4
2002
133.7
6.8
16.1
77.4
82.6
2003
132.3
6.7
15.6
77.8
82.8
2004
132.5
6.6
15.2
78.1
83.0
2005
130.7
6.4
16.6
78.5
83.3

(a) Based on three-year averages, with the year shown being the last year of the three-year period.
(b) Deaths per 1,000 population.
(c) Infant deaths per 1,000 live births.
Source: Australian Historical Population Statistics (3105.0.65.001); Deaths, Australia (3302.0).


Australians have a life expectancy at birth which compares well with that experienced in other developed nations. Life expectancy at birth of Australian males (78.5 years) was exceeded only by Iceland and Hong Kong (SAR of China), both at 79 years. Japan, Macao (SAR of China), Sweden, Switzerland and Israel all shared with Australia a male life expectancy at birth of 78 years. Life expectancy at birth of Australian females (83.3 years) was only exceeded by Japan and Hong Kong (SAR of China), both at 85 years. Females in Spain, France, Iceland, Italy and Switzerland all shared with Australia a life expectancy of 83 years. The combined Australian male and female life expectancy of new-born babies for 2003-05 was 80.9 years. This was higher than in Canada (80 years), New Zealand (79 years) and the United Kingdom and the United States of America (78 years) and (77 years) respectively.

A life table is a statistical model that is constructed from the death rates of a population at different ages. It is frequently used to express death in terms of the probability of dying. In its simplest form, a life table is generated from age-specific death rates and the resulting values are used to measure mortality, survivorship and life expectancy. Table 7.34 shows the expectations of additional years of life at specific ages for Australian males and females using statistics for the period 2003-05.

Table 7.35 provides summary measures of mortality for the period 1995 to 2005.




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