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1301.0 - Year Book Australia, 2006  
Previous ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 20/01/2006   
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DEATHS

In 2003, 132,300 deaths (68,300 males and 64,000 females) were registered in Australia, a decrease of 1,400 deaths (or 1%) compared with the number of deaths registered in 2002 (133,700). Since 1983 the number of deaths has increased by 1% on average annually. 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 continued ageing of the population the number of deaths will continue to rise, with deaths projected to outnumber births sometime in the 2030s.

Despite the ageing of the population over the last 20 years, death rates have continued to decline. The crude death rate (CDR) fell from 7.2 deaths per 1,000 population in 1983 to 6.7 deaths per 1,000 in 2003. The fall in CDR, against the background of an older population, 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) was 6.4 deaths per 1,000 population in 2003, down by 4% from 2002 (6.7) and down by 33% from 1983 (9.6). Standardised death rates are calculated using the 2001 total population of Australia as the standard population.

LIFE EXPECTANCY

Life expectancy refers to 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 continued throughout his or her remaining lifetime.

Over the past 50 years the average life expectancy of a new-born boy has increased from 67 years in the period 1952-54 to 78 years in 2001-03. Likewise, the average life expectancy of a new-born girl has increased from 73 to 83 years during the same period (graph 5.35). The increase in life expectancy at birth is due to declining death rates at all ages.

Graph 5.35: LIFE EXPECTANCY AT BIRTH


Reductions in mortality in the early part of the 20th century have 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, as well as medical advances.


During the 20th century the life expectancy of new-born girls was consistently higher than that of new-born boys, with this difference peaking at about 7 years in the 1970s and early-1980s. The difference is largely due to significant declines in heart disease, stroke and respiratory disease mortality among women. In recent years, the gap in life expectancy between new-born males and females has narrowed to 5 years in 2001-03. 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 has increased from 14 years for males and 18 years for females in 1983, to 18 years for males and 21 years for females in the period 2001-03.

Australians have a life expectancy at birth which compares well with that experienced in other developed nations. Life expectancy at birth of males in Australia (78 years) was exceeded only by Hong Kong (SAR of China) and Iceland (both at 79 years). Israel, Japan, Macao (SAR of China), Sweden and Switzerland all shared with Australia a male life expectancy at birth of 78 years. Life expectancy at birth of Australian females (83 years) was exceeded only by Hong Kong (SAR of China) and Japan (both at 85 years). France, Iceland, Italy, Spain and Switzerland all shared with Australia a female life expectancy at birth of 83 years.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. Map 5.37 shows the combined male and female life expectancy at birth for the global population.

5.36 EXPECTATION OF LIFE(a)

Males
Females
At exact age (years)
years
years

0
77.8
82.8
10
68.3
73.3
20
58.6
63.4
30
49.1
53.6
40
39.6
43.9
50
30.4
34.4
60
21.6
25.3
70
13.9
16.9
80
7.9
9.7
90
4.1
4.9
100
2.5
2.9

(a) Expectation of life has been calculated using data for the three years 2001-03.

Source: Deaths, Australia (3302.0).

5.37 LIFE EXPECTANCY AT BIRTH, By country - 2000-05
Map 5.37: LIFE EXPECTANCY AT BIRTH, By country - 2000-05

Source: United Nations Population Division, 'World population prospects: The 2004 revision', viewed 22/07/05, <http://www.un.org>.


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 5.36 shows the expectations of life at specific ages for Australian males and females in the period 2001-03.


Table 5.38 provides summary measures of mortality for census years between 1954 and 1986, and individual years between 1993 and 2003.

5.38 SELECTED SUMMARY MEASURES OF MORTALITY

Life expectancy at birth(a)

Registered deaths
Crude death
Infant mortality
Males
Females
'000
rate(b)
rate(c)
years
years

1993
121.6
6.9
6.1
75.0
80.9
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

(a) Data for 1993 and 1994 is based on individual years. Data for 1995 onwards are based on 3-year averages, with the year shown being the last year of the 3-year period.
(b) Per 1,000 population.
(c) Per 1,000 live births.

Source: Australian Historical Population Statistics (3105.0.65.001); Deaths, Australia (3302.0).


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