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1301.0 - Year Book Australia, 2003  
Previous ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 24/01/2003   
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Contents >> Population >> Deaths

Over the past century, the average life expectancy of a new-born boy has increased from 55 years in 1901-10 to 77 years in 1998-2000. Likewise, the average life expectancy of a new-born girl has increased from 59 to 82 years during the same period (graph 5.24). These represent an increase of 21.4 years for boys and 23.2 years for girls. The increase in life expectancy is due to lower death rates at all ages.

The reduction in mortality in the early part of the 20th century has been attributed to improvements in living conditions, such as better water supply, sewerage systems, food quality and health education. The continuing reduction in mortality in the latter half of last century has been attributed to improving social conditions, and to 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 behavioural changes, such as dietary improvements and reduced smoking.

During the 20th century the life expectancy of new-born girls was consistently higher than that of new-born boys. Up until the early 1930s, a new-born girl had a life expectancy approximately four years greater than a new-born boy, with this difference peaking at about seven years in the 1970s and early 1980s, largely due to significant declines in heart disease, stroke and respiratory disease mortality among women, combined with a slight decline in male life expectancy from accidents among males aged 15-24 years and from heart disease among 45-84 year old males. In recent years, the gap in life expectancy between new-born males and females has narrowed to about five years (5.4 years in 1998-2000). 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. Since 1980, life expectancy of 65 year olds has increased from 14 years for males and 18 years for females, to 17 years for males and 20 years for females.

Graph - 5.24 Life expectancy at birth



Australians have an average life expectancy which compares well with that experienced in other developed nations. Among the countries shown in table 5.25, the life expectancy at birth of Australian males and females (77 and 82 years respectively) was exceeded only by that in Japan (both males and females), Hong Kong (SAR of China) (both males and females) and France (females). The life expectancy of new-born babies in Australia was higher than in New Zealand, the United Kingdom, Canada and the United States of America.


5.25 LIFE EXPECTANCY AT BIRTH, Selected countries - 1999

Males
Females
years
years

Australia(a)
76.6
82.0
Canada
75.9
81.4
China
68.3
72.5
France
74.5
82.3
Germany
74.3
80.6
Hong Kong (SAR of China)
76.7
82.2
India
62.4
63.3
Indonesia
63.9
67.7
Italy
75.2
81.6
Japan
77.3
84.1
Korea, Republic of
70.9
78.4
Netherlands
75.3
80.7
New Zealand
74.8
80.1
Papua New Guinea
55.4
57.3
Singapore
75.2
79.6
United Kingdom
75.0
80.0
United States of America
73.9
79.7

(a) Reference period for Australia is 1998-2000.

Source: Deaths, Australia (3302.0); United Nations Development Programme 2000.


The standardised death rate removes the effect of different age structures of the population, and allows a more meaningful comparison of the death rates of different sub-populations. Over the past 20 years, standardised death rates for Australia and all states and territories have decreased by about one-third (table 5.26).

Of the states and territories, the Northern Territory has had the highest standardised death rate in the country for the last two decades. This can largely be attributed to high death rates among the Indigenous population. In 2000, the highest standardised death rates for both males and females were recorded in the Northern Territory, with 10.8 deaths per 1,000 standard population for males and 7.0 deaths per 1,000 standard population for females. The Australian Capital Territory recorded the lowest standardised death rate for males (6.0), while Western Australia had the lowest standardised death rate for females (4.3).


5.26 STANDARDISED DEATH RATES(a)

1980
1990
2000



Males
Females
Persons
Males
Females
Persons
Males
Females
Persons

New South Wales
11.6
6.7
8.8
9.5
5.7
7.4
7.2
4.6
5.8
Victoria
11.4
6.5
8.6
9.0
5.5
7.0
6.9
4.4
5.5
Queensland
10.9
6.3
8.4
9.0
5.4
7.0
7.1
4.5
5.7
South Australia
10.5
6.0
8.0
9.0
5.4
7.0
7.3
4.5
5.8
Western Australia
10.9
6.4
8.4
8.4
5.1
6.6
6.9
4.3
5.4
Tasmania
12.4
7.0
9.4
10.2
6.1
7.9
7.8
4.9
6.2
Northern Territory
13.0
10.4
11.6
14.2
8.5
11.3
10.8
7.0
8.9
Australian Capital Territory
10.2
6.3
8.0
8.2
5.5
6.7
6.0
4.4
5.1
Australia(b)
11.3
6.5
8.6
9.2
5.6
7.2
7.1
4.5
5.7

(a) Deaths per 1,000 standard population. The standard population used is the June 1991 population.
(b) Includes Other Territories.

Source: Deaths, Australia (3302.0).


Table 5.27 brings together summary measures of mortality for census years between 1901 and 1986, and individual years between 1991 and 2000.


5.27 SELECTED SUMMARY MEASURES OF MORTALITY

Life expectancy at birth(a)

Registered deaths
Crude death
Infant mortality
Males
Females
Year ended 31 December
no.
rate(b)
rate(c)
years
years

1901
46,330
12.2
103.6
55.2
58.8
1921
54,076
9.9
65.7
59.2
63.3
1933
59,117
8.9
39.5
63.5
67.1
1947
73,468
9.7
28.5
66.1
70.6
1954
81,805
9.1
22.5
67.1
72.8
1961
88,961
8.5
19.5
67.9
74.2
1966
103,929
9.0
18.7
67.6
74.2
1971
110,650
8.5
17.3
68.3
74.8
1976
112,662
8.0
13.8
69.4
76.4
1981
109,003
7.3
10.0
71.4
78.4
1986
114,981
7.2
8.8
72.9
79.2
1991
119,146
6.9
7.1
74.4
80.4
1992
123,660
7.1
7.0
74.5
80.4
1993
121,599
6.9
6.1
75.0
80.9
1994
126,692
7.1
5.9
75.0
80.9
1995
125,133
6.9
5.7
75.5
81.1
1996
128,719
7.0
5.8
75.5
81.3
1997
129,350
7.0
5.3
75.9
81.4
1998
127,202
6.8
5.0
76.3
81.8
1999
128,102
6.8
5.7
76.6
82.0
2000
128,291
6.7
5.2
77.1
82.3

(a) Data for 1901 are based on the period 1901-10. Data for 1921-66 are based on three-year averages, with the year shown being the midpoint of the range. Data for 1971 onwards are based on individual years.
(b) Per 1,000 population.
(c) Per 1,000 live births.

Source: Australian Demographic Trends (3102.0); Deaths, Australia (3302.0).


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