MORTALITY CONTIUES TO DECLINE
The Australian death rate changed little in 2002, compared to the last two years. The standardised death rate in 2002 (6.7) was up by 1.5% since 2001 (6.6), down 1.5% (6.8) since 2000 and down 35% (10.3) since 1982. There were 133,700 deaths registered in Australia in 2002, approximately 5,200 (4.0%) more than the number registered in 2001 (128,500).
Over the past 20 years there has been a sustained decline in the death rates for all states and territories. The highest age-standardised death rate in 2002 was in the Northern Territory and the lowest was in the Australian Capital Territory.
LIFE EXPECTANCY CONTINUES TO INCREASE
Life expectancy at birth continued to increase, reflecting the general decrease in death rates. A boy born in 2000–2002 could expect to live 77.4 years, while a girl could expect to live 82.6 years. Since 1982, life expectancy at birth has increased by six years for males and four years for females.
Internationally, Australia's male life expectancy at birth ranks below Japan, Sweden and Hong Kong (each 78 years), similar to that for Switzerland and Canada (each 77 years), and above that for France, Greece, New Zealand and Spain (each 76 years), the United Kingdom and the United States of America (75 and 74 years respectively).
Australia's life expectancy at birth for females was similar to that for France, Spain and Switzerland (each 83 years). It was behind Japan and Hong Kong (each 85 years), and above Canada and Sweden (each 82 years), Greece and New Zealand (each 81 years), the United Kingdom and the United States of America (each 80 years).
Male life expectancy at birth was highest in the Australian Capital Territory (79.2 years), while female life expectancy was highest in the Australian Capital Territory (83.3 years), closely followed by Western Australia (82.9 years). The lowest life expectancy was in the Northern Territory where a boy born in 2000–2002 could expect to live an average of 71.3 years, and a girl, 76.7 years.
In 2000–2002, the life expectancy at birth for males and females varied across the regions of Australia by up to 11 years. Male life expectancy at birth was highest in Canberra (79.2 years) followed by Outer Adelaide, Melbourne, Moreton (Queensland) and Perth (each 78.4 years), while female life expectancy was highest at 83.4 years in Perth, followed by Moreton (Queensland) and Canberra (each 83.3 years).
Male life expectancy was lowest in the Balance of the Northern Territory (68.1 years) followed by the Kimberley (71.8 years), and North-West Queensland (72.3 years). Female life expectancy was lowest in the Balance of the Northern Territory (73.6 years), North-West Queensland (77.6 years) and the Kimberley (78.0 years).
VARIATIONS IN MORTALITY
The 2002 infant mortality rate was 5.0 deaths per 1,000 live births, a decrease of 5.7% from 2001, and a decrease of 51.5% since 1982. In 2002, over one-third (36.3%) of all infant deaths occurred within one day of birth.
For those aged 15 years and over, males and females who had never married had standardised death rates of almost twice those of their married counterparts.
Of all men whose deaths were registered during 2002, 55.2% were in a registered marriage at the time of death, while 19.5% were widowed and 14.6% were never married. In contrast, of all women whose deaths were registered during 2002, 57.4% were widows at the time of death, with a further 26.1% being in a registered marriage and 8.9% never married. This difference is a consequence of the greater longevity of women.
The median age at death in 2002 was 76.2 years for males and 82.2 years for females, an increase of 6.2 years and 5.0 years respectively on the median age at death in 1982. This reflects the ageing of the population, as well as an increase in the survival of males and females over the period.
Between 1982 and 2002, the risk of dying has declined for people of all age groups. The largest declines in male age specific death rates occurred in the 5–9 years age group (down 75%), followed by those aged 1–4 years (down 57%), infants (down 53%) and the 10–14 years age group (down 50%). Female age specific death rates also declined most substantially in the 1–4 years age group (down 60%) and for infants (down 49%).
CAUSES OF DEATH
During the last decade, Ischaemic heart diseases (IHD) and Malignant neoplasms (cancer) remained the two leading causes of death. In recent years cancer has overtaken IHD as the leading cause of death for both men and women. This has been the result of the long-term downward trend in the standardised death rate for IHD, declining by 58.1% for males and 53.3% for females from 1982 to 2002. Over the same period the standardised death rate for Malignant neoplasms declined by just 13.6% for males and 6.8% for females.
In 2002, Malignant neoplasms were the leading cause of death, accounting for 37,600 deaths or 28.1% of all deaths. IHD was the second leading cause of death, contributing 26,100 deaths or 19.5% of all deaths. Cerebrovascular diseases (stroke) contributed 9.4% of all deaths.
There were 2,140 deaths registered in 2002 where the deceased person was identified as being of Aboriginal, Torres Strait Islander or both origins (Indigenous).
The Indigenous infant mortality rate was higher than the total infant mortality rate for the states and territory presented. In 2000–2002 the highest Indigenous infant mortality rate was experienced in the Northern Territory (18.1), while New South Wales (9.5) experienced the lowest Indigenous infant mortality rate.
The median age at death among Indigenous males in 2002 was highest in New South Wales (56.3 years), while the lowest median age at death for Indigenous males was in the Northern Territory (47.1 years).
The median age at death among Indigenous females in 2002 was highest in New South Wales (61.9 years), while the lowest median age at death for Indigenous males was in the Northern Territory (50.0 years).