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1301.0 - Year Book Australia, 2007  
Previous ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 24/01/2007   
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Contents >> Population >> Deaths

DEATHS

In 2004, 132,500 deaths (68,400 males and 64,100 females) were registered in Australia, compared with 132,300 deaths registered in 2003. This represents an increase of approximately 200 deaths (or 0.2%). Since 1984 the number of deaths registered increased by 0.9% on average annually. The steady increase in the number of deaths over time reflects the increasing size of the population, and particularly the increasing number of older people. As population ageing continues, the number of deaths will continue to rise and is projected to outnumber births around the mid-2040s.

Despite population ageing over the last 20 years Australia's death rates have continued to decline. The crude death rate decreased from 7.1 deaths per 1,000 population in 1984 to 6.6 deaths per 1,000 in 2004. Against the background of an older population, this fall indicates the 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) for 2004 was the lowest on record at 6.3 deaths per 1,000 population, and 32.3% lower than the rate recorded in 1984 (9.3).

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 were to continue throughout his or her remaining lifetime.

Over the last 50 years the life expectancy of a new-born boy increased from 67.1 years in the period 1953-55 to 78.1 years in 2002-04. Likewise, the life expectancy of a new-born girl increased from 72.8 to 83.0 years during the same period (graph 5.30). The increase in life expectancy at birth is due to declining death rates at all ages.

5.30 LIFE EXPECTANCY AT BIRTH 5.30 LIFE EXPECTANCY AT BIRTH


Improvements in living conditions in the early part of the 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 7 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 5 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 1983, to 18 years for males and 21 years for females in 2002-04.

Australians have a life expectancy at birth which compares well with that experienced in other developed nations. Life expectancy at birth of Australian males (78.1 years) is exceeded by only Hong Kong (SAR of China) and Iceland (both at 79 years) and is comparable with Japan, Macao (SAR of China), Sweden, Switzerland and Israel (each 78 years). Life expectancy at birth of Australian females (83 years) is exceeded by only Hong Kong (SAR of China) and Japan (both at 85 years) and is the same as Spain, France, Iceland, Italy and Switzerland (each 83 years). The combined Australian male and female life expectancy of new-born babies for 2002-04 is 80.5 years, the same as Canada (80.5 years), and higher than New Zealand and the United Kingdom (both 79 years) and the United States of America (77 years).

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 5.31 shows the expectations of additional years of life at specific ages for Australian males and females for the period 2002-04.


5.31 EXPECTATION OF LIFE(a)

Males
Females
At exact age (years)
years
years

0
78.1
83.0
10
68.6
73.5
20
58.9
63.6
30
49.4
53.8
40
39.9
44.1
50
30.6
34.6
60
21.8
25.5
70
14.1
17.0
80
8.0
9.8
90
4.1
4.8
100
2.5
2.8

(a) Calculated using data for the three years 2002-04.
Source: Deaths, Australia (3302.0).


Table 5.32 provides summary measures of mortality for the period 1994 to 2004.

5.32 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

1994
126.7
7.1
5.9
75.0
80.9
1995
125.1
6.9
5.7
75.4
81.1
1996
128.7
7.0
5.8
75.5
81.3
1997
129.4
7.0
5.3
75.6
81.3
1998
127.2
6.8
5.0
75.9
81.5
1999
128.1
6.8
5.7
76.2
81.8
2000
128.3
6.7
5.2
76.6
82.0
2001
128.5
6.6
5.3
77.0
82.4
2002
133.7
6.8
5.0
77.4
82.6
2003
132.3
6.7
4.8
77.8
82.8
2004
132.5
6.6
4.7
78.1
83.0

(a) Data for 1994 is based on deaths registered in 1994 only. Data for 1995 onwards are 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).


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