1318.3 - Qld Stats, Feb 2010  
ARCHIVED ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 22/02/2010   
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Male and female deaths
Age-specific death rates
Median age at death
Infant deaths
Life expectancy at birth
Deaths of Queensland Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders
Regional data
End notes
Further Information


This article brings together statistics on deaths and mortality in Queensland. Unless otherwise stated, data refer to deaths registered during the calendar year shown for usual residents of Queensland.

In 2008, there were 27,335 deaths of usual residents of Queensland, an increase of 5.9% compared with the number in 2007. Since 1973, the number of deaths has increased by 65%.

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 continue to increase throughout the remainder of the century (Series B, Population Projections, Australia, 2006 to 2101, cat. no. 3222.0).

Declining death rates

Despite the ageing of the population over the last 35 years, death rates have continued to decline. The crude death rate1 declined from 8.5 deaths per 1,000 population in 1973 to 5.9 deaths per 1,000 population in 2005 and has risen slightly since then to 6.4 deaths per 1,000 population in 2008. Given the ageing of Queensland's population, the overall decline in the crude death rate indicates a considerable decline in age-specific death rates2 over the period.

The standardised death rate3 (SDR), which eliminates the effect of changes in the age structure of a population over time, was 6.2 deaths per 1,000 standard population in 2008. This was slightly higher than the three previous years (6.1 deaths per 1,000 standard population in 2007 and 6.0 in 2006 and 2005) but half the rate in 1973 (12.2). The rates for 2005 and 2006 are the lowest on record.

Standardised Death Rates(a), Queensland
Graph: Standardised Death Rates, Queensland, 1973 to 2008


Male deaths (14,462) registered in 2008 outnumbered female deaths (12,873), resulting in a sex ratio of 112.3 male deaths for every 100 female deaths. This ratio has decreased from 134.9 male deaths for every 100 female deaths in 1973. Since 1973, the numbers of male deaths have increased by 52% while female deaths have increased by 82%.

Deaths Registered, Queensland
Graph: Deaths Registered, Queensland, 1973 to 2008

Although male mortality remains higher than female mortality, in the last 35 years the gap has narrowed. In 1973, males had an SDR of 15.3 deaths per 1,000 standard population, 5.6 deaths higher than the female SDR of 9.7 deaths per 1,000 standard population. In 2008, the male SDR had decreased to 7.5 deaths per 1,000 standard population, 2.4 deaths higher than the female rate of 5.1 deaths per 1,000 standard population.

From relatively high rates of death in infancy, death rates decline sharply through childhood. In 2008, the lowest age-specific death rates (ASDRs) in Queensland were experienced by males and females aged 5-9 years and 10-14 years. ASDRs begin to increase from around 15 years of age for both males and females. For all age groups except 5-9 years and 10-14 years, ASDRs were higher for males with differences between males and females becoming more prominent from 65 years of age. The largest difference between male and female ASDRs occurred in the 80-84 years age group. For this age group, males experienced an ASDR of 77.4 deaths per 1,000 male population compared with females who had a rate of 49.6 deaths per 1,000 female population.

For 2008, the ASDR for males aged 15-19 years was 150% greater than that of females of the same age group (0.5 and 0.2 per 1,000 population respectively). Male ASDRs increased gradually until around age 40-44 years, when they began to increase more quickly throughout the older age groups. Age-specific death rates for females aged 15 to 44 years were low and relatively constant. Increases in the female ASDRs are evident from 45-49 years of age and continued throughout the remaining age groups.

Age-specific Death Rates(a), Queensland, 2008
Graph: Age-specific Death Rates (deaths per 1,000 males or females), Queensland, 2008 (logarithmic)

Over the last 10 years the overall trend in death rates for both males and females for all age groups has been downwards. The largest proportional decrease between 1998 and 2008 in male age-specific death rates occurred in the 5-9 years and 10-14 years age group (both down 50%) followed by the 30-34 years age group (down 38%) and 20-24 years age group (down 33%). For females, the 15-19 years age group experienced the largest proportional decrease (down 60%), followed by females aged 10-14 years (down 50%) and females aged 1-4 years years (down 33%).


For deaths registered in 2008, the median age at death for usual residents of Queensland was 80.1 years. Females recorded a higher median age at death (83.4 years) than their male counterparts (77.0 years).

Median Age at Death, Queensland
Graph: Median Age at Death, Queensland, 1998 to 2008


There were 308 infant deaths (deaths of children less than one year of age) of usual residents of Queensland registered in 2008. Males accounted for 56% of infant deaths resulting in a sex ratio of 129.9 male infant deaths for every 100 female infant deaths.

In the 35 years to 2008, Queensland's infant mortality rate (IMR) has declined significantly. In 1973, around one in 57 infants did not survive to their first birthday (an IMR of 17.4 infant deaths per 1,000 live births). By 2007, one in 204 Queensland infants did not survive their first year of life (an IMR of 4.9 infant deaths per 1,000 live births). This decline may be a consequence of the introduction of universal health insurance (Medicare) and improvements in medical technology, such as neonatal intensive care units (Taylor et al. 1998).

Since 1991, Queensland's IMR has been higher than or equal to the national average. In 2008, Queensland's IMR (4.9) was the second highest after the Northern Territory (6.1).

Infant Mortality Rates(a)
Graph: Infant Mortality Rates (infant deaths per 1,000 live births), Queensland and Australia, 1973 to 2008


Life expectancy at birth is one of the most widely used indicators of population health. It focuses on length of life rather than its quality, but provides a useful summary of the health of the population.

In 2006-2008, life expectancy at birth was 78.9 years for Queensland males and 83.7 years for Queensland females. Women tend to live longer than men, however in recent years life expectancy at birth has increased more quickly for males than for females. Since 1988, male life expectancy at birth has increased by 5.6 years compared to an increase of 3.9 years for females. The increase in life expectancy at birth reflects declining death rates at all ages.

Life Expectancy at Birth, Queensland
Graph: Life Expectancy at Birth, Queensland, 1988 to 2008


In 2008, there were 562 registered deaths of usual residents of Queensland where the deceased person was identified as being of Aboriginal origin, Torres Strait Islander origin or both.

A variety of measures of mortality (age-specific death rates, median age at death, infant mortality rates and life expectancy at birth) indicate that the mortality level of Indigenous Australians is substantially higher than that of the total Australian population.

The exact scale of difference between Indigenous and total population mortality is difficult to establish conclusively, due to quality issues with Indigenous deaths data and the uncertainties inherent with estimating and projecting the size and structure of the Indigenous population over time. Caution should be exercised when undertaking analysis of Indigenous mortality and, in particular, trends in Indigenous mortality.

Some of the issues affecting the reporting of Indigenous mortality include under-identification of Indigenous deaths, unexplained changes in the number of people identified as Indigenous in different data collections and, over time, the use of a standard Indigenous status question, and not stated Indigenous status.

It is considered likely that most deaths of Indigenous Australians are registered. However, some of these deaths are not identified as Indigenous when they are registered. This may arise from the failure to report a person's Indigenous status on the death registration form or from an incorrect identification of their Indigenous status (that is, recording non-Indigenous instead of Indigenous) on the death certificate. Such mis-identification may occur because some Indigenous people may have non-Indigenous ancestries which may create uncertainty for those completing the death registration form as to how a deceased person should be identified.

As part of the 2006 Census Data Enhancement (CDE) project, the Indigenous Mortality Quality Study was conducted to estimate the extent of under-identification of Indigenous deaths in death registrations. The study involved linking death registrations (for 9 August 2006 to 30 June 2007) to 2006 Census of Population and Housing records, and comparing Indigenous status as recorded in the two collections. Identification rates obtained from the study were then used in the construction of experimental life tables of the Indigenous population of Australia for 2005–2007.
Age at death

Deaths of non-Indigenous persons are concentrated in the older age groups whereas deaths of Indigenous persons are more widely spread across younger age groups. For Queensland Indigenous persons, 63% of deaths occur before age 65 years compared to around one in five (21%) of non-Indigenous Queenslanders.

AGE AT DEATH, Indigenous Status, Queensland, 2008

1 - 14
15 - 24
25 - 34
35 - 44
45 - 54
55 - 64
65 years
and over

Number of deaths
% of total deaths
Number of deaths
% of total deaths

(a) Includes deaths for which age of death was not stated.

Median age at death

Median age at death is influenced to some extent by the age structure of a population, which itself has been influenced by the ages at which deaths occur. The Indigenous population is younger than the non-Indigenous population and this is reflected in the median age at death of the two populations (Baade & Coory, 2003).

In 2008, the median age at death for Indigenous males was 53.2 years while the median age at death for Indigenous females was 62.3 years. In contrast, the median ages at death for non-Indigenous males and females were considerably higher at 77.3 and 83.7 years, respectively.

Median Age at Death, Indigenous Status(a), Queensland



(a) Care should be exercised when comparing median age at death of Indigenous and non-Indigenous Queenslanders.

Infant mortality rate

For the period 2006 - 2008, the Indigenous infant mortality rate was 7.9 infants per 1,000 live births. Infant mortality rates for Indigenous Queenslanders are around 55% higher than the rate for all Queenslanders.

INFANT MORTALITY RATES(a), Indigenous Status(b), Queensland

2003 - 2005
2004 - 2006
2005 - 2007

All persons

(a) Infant deaths per 1,000 live births.
(b) Deaths for whom Indigenous status was not stated are excluded. As a result, Indigenous infant mortality rates may be underestimated.


In Queensland, local government areas with an estimated resident population of 20,000 or more recorded a wide range of indirect standardised death rates3. Mount Isa (C) recorded the highest rate of 10.6 deaths per 1,000 standard population followed by Whitsunday (R) with 7.5, Rockhampton (R) with 6.9 and Ipswich (C) and Dalby (R) both with 6.8 deaths per 1,000 population. Scenic Rim (R) recorded the lowest rate of 5.1 deaths per 1,000 standard population followed Sunshine Coast (R) with 5.2 and Gympie(R) with 5.4 deaths per 1,000 population. About two-thirds of local government areas with an estimated resident population of 20,000 or more recorded an equal or lower indirect standardised death rate than that of Queensland (6.1). Death rates were based on the average of deaths data for the period 2006 to 2008.

In addition to data for local government areas and statistical divisions, data is also available for statistical local areas. Please refer to Deaths, Australia, 2008 (cat. no. 3302.0) electronic data cubes for further small area data.


1. The crude death rate (CDR) is the number of deaths registered during the calendar year per 1,000 estimated resident population at 30 June. For years prior to 1992, the crude death rate was based on the mean estimated resident population for the calendar year.

2. Age-specific death rates (ASDRs) are the number of deaths registered during the calendar year at a specified age per 1,000 of the estimated resident population of the same age at the mid-point of the year (30 June). Pro rata adjustment is made in respect of deaths for which the age of the deceased is not given.

3. Standardised death rates (SDRs) enable the comparison of death rates between populations with different age structures by relating them to a standard population. The current standard population is all persons in the Australian population at 30 June 2001. SDRs are expressed per 1,000 or 100,000 persons. There are two methods of calculating SDRs:
  • The direct method—this is used when the populations under study are large and the age-specific death rates are reliable. It is the overall death rate that would have prevailed in the standard population if it had experienced at each age the death rates of the population under study.
  • The indirect method—this is used when the populations under study are small and the age-specific death rates are unreliable or not known. It is an adjustment to the crude death rate of the standard population to account for the variation between the actual number of deaths in the population under study and the number of deaths which would have occurred if the population under study had experienced the age-specific death rates of the standard population.

4. For more information see Experimental Life Tables for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians, 2005–2007 (cat. no 3302.0.55.003) released on 25 May 2009 and Information Paper: Census Data Enhancement—Indigenous Mortality Quality Study, 2006–07 (cat. no. 4723.0) and Discussion Paper: Assessment of Methods for Developing Life Tables for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians, 2006 (cat. no. 3302.0.55.002), both released on 17 November 2008.


Baade, P & Coory, M 2003, 'Is median age at death a useful way to monitor improvements in mortality among Indigenous Australians?', in Australian and New Zealand Journal of Public Health, Vol. 27, No. 6, pp. 627–631.

Taylor R, Lewis M, Powles J 1998, 'Australian mortality decline: All-cause mortality 1788–1990', in Australian and New Zealand Journal of Public Health, Vol. 22, No. 1, pp. 27–36.


Further information on this topic can be accessed in the following ABS publications:

Deaths, Australia, 2008 (cat. no. 3302.0)
Australian Historical Population Statistics, 2008 (cat. no. 3105.0.65.001)
Life Tables, Queensland, 2006-08 (cat. no. 3302.3.55.001)
Experimental Life Tables for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians, 2005–2007 (cat. no. 3302.0.55.003)