1383.0.55.001 - Measures of Australia's Progress: Summary Indicators, 2009  
ARCHIVED ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 30/04/2009   
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Life expectancy at birth
Line graph: Life expectancy at birth, 1997 - 2007

For technical information see Endnote 1.
Source: Deaths, Australia, 2007 (cat. no. 3302.0).

Australian life expectancy at birth improved during the decade 1997 to 2007. A boy born in 2007 could expect to live to be 79, while a girl could expect to reach 84 - increases of three years for both. Women tend to live longer than men, and this is reflected in the differences in life expectancy throughout the 20th century. Although a girl born in 2007 could still expect to live longer than a boy, in recent years life expectancy at birth has increased slightly more quickly for boys than for girls.

While Australians are living longer than ever before and continued improvements in life expectancy are anticipated, there is a good deal of debate about the extent of any further increases. However, there is no doubt that there is more room for improvement among some groups of the population compared to others. In particular, life expectancy for Indigenous Australians, both male and female, is considerably shorter than that of all Australians (Endnote 2).


Life expectancy at birth is a measure of how long someone born in a particular year might expect to live if mortality patterns for that year remained unchanged over their lifetime. It 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.

Information on the health status of the Australian population is available from the National Health Survey and other health-related collections regularly conducted by the ABS (See Themes - Health). Measures that combine mortality, disability and other non-fatal health outcomes have been published by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (Endnote 3).

State and territory spreadsheets
Health - Measures of Australia's Progress, 2006
Themes - Demography
Themes - Health
The Burden of Disease and Injury in Australia, 2003


1. Data are three-year averages, with the year shown being the last year of the three-year period.

2. Australian Bureau of Statistics 2008, Experimental Life Tables for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians, 2005-2007, cat. no. 3302.0.55.003, ABS, Canberra; Australian Bureau of Statistics 2008, Discussion Paper: Assessment of Methods for Developing Life Tables for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians, 2006, cat. no. 3302.0.55.002, ABS, Canberra.

3. Begg S, Vos T, Barker B, Stevenson C, Stanley L & Lopez A, 2007, The Burden of Disease and Injury in Australia, 2003 AIHW cat. no. PHE 82, Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, Canberra, viewed 30 March 2009.