ABOUT THIS ISSUE
This publication brings together statistics and indicators for deaths in Australia.
CHANGES IN THIS ISSUE
Chapters have been restructured in this issue to present summary tables, differentials in mortality, underlying cause of death, infant deaths and life tables in separate chapters.
Information about Indigenous deaths is contained in chapter 9 of this publication. The content of the Indigenous deaths chapter has been modified based on the latest estimates of implied coverage of Indigenous deaths for 1999-2003. Implied coverage rates are provided in table 9.1.
Abridged experimental Indigenous life tables for selected states and territories and Australia for 1996-2001 are provided in chapter 9.
Data for 1997-2003 cause of death are coded to ICD-10 (see Explanatory Notes 21-26).
Standardised deaths rates for underlying cause of death for 2003 are not yet available. See Causes of death, Australia 2003 (cat. no. 3303.0.55.001) for more information.
The table, Mortality Indicators, Australia and selected countries, previously table 5.5 (2002 issue of this publication) has not been included in this issue. An international comparison of Australian mortality is provided in Chapter 2 - Summary of findings. Further international mortality and other demographic data can be found in the United Nations, Demographic Yearbook 2001.
There are no special articles in this issue.
In commentary based on the statistics in this publication, it is recommended that the relevant statistics be rounded. All data are affected by errors in reporting and processing. Death registration data are also affected by delays in registration. With the exception of tables 5.1 and 5.2, small values have been randomised to protect confidentiality. No reliance should be placed on statistics with small values.
DATA IN THIS PUBLICATION
As there is undercoverage of Indigenous deaths to some extent in most states and territories, the measures of Indigenous mortality presented here are likely to be conservative estimates. Fluctuations in the level of Indigenous mortality over time partly reflect changing levels of coverage of Indigenous deaths. Given the volatility in measures of Indigenous mortality caution should be exercised in assessing trends in Indigenous mortality over time.
For further information about these and related statistics, contact the National Information and Referral Service on 1300 135 070 or Olivia Agius on Canberra (02) 6252 6573.
MORTALITY CONTINUES TO DECLINE
- There were 132,300 deaths registered in Australia in 2003, approximately 1,400 (1%) less than the number registered in 2002 (133,700). The standardised death rate in 2003 was 6.4 deaths per 1,000 population, down 4% compared to 2002 (6.7) and down 33% from 1983 (9.6).
- Over the past 20 years there has been a decline in the death rates for all states and territories. The highest age-standardised death rate in 2003 was in the Northern Territory (9.0), while the lowest was in the Australian Capital Territory (5.8).
LIFE EXPECTANCY CONTINUES TO INCREASE
- A boy born in 2001-2003 can expect to live an average of 77.8 years while a girl can expect to live 82.8 years. Life expectancy has improved by six years for males and four years for females over the past 20 years.
- Internationally, Australia's male life expectancy ranks below Hong Kong (79 years), Japan and Sweden (each 78 years), but above France, Greece, New Zealand, the United Kingdom, Spain (each 76 years) and the United States of America (75 years). Australia's female life expectancy also ranks below Japan and Hong Kong (85 and 84 years respectively), but is above that of Canada, Sweden (each 82 years), Greece and New Zealand (each 81 years) and the United Kingdom and the United States of America (each 80 years).
- The Australian Capital Territory had the highest life expectancy for both males (79.2 years) and females (83.8 years) in 2001-2003. The Northern Territory had the lowest life expectancy at 72.0 years for males and 77.3 years for females.
- In 2001-2003, the life expectancy at birth for males and females varied across the regions of Australia by up to 10 years. Male life expectancy was highest in Canberra (79.4 years) followed by Outer Adelaide and Perth (each 78.9 years), Sydney, Moreton (Queensland) and Melbourne (each 78.7 years), while female life expectancy was highest at 83.9 years in Canberra, Outer Adelaide and South-West Western Australia.
- Male life expectancy was lowest in the Balance of the Northern Territory (68.2 years) followed by the Kimberley (71.3 years), and North-West Queensland (71.7 years). Female life expectancy was lowest in the Balance of the Northern Territory (73.6 years), the Kimberley (75.9 years) and North-West Queensland (76.9 years).
VARIATIONS IN MORTALITY
- The Infant Mortality Rate (IMR) of 4.8 infant deaths per 1,000 live births in 2003 was 5% lower than the 2002 rate (5.0) and 48% lower than the 1983 rate (9.6).
- For those aged 15 years and over, males and females who had never married had death rates almost twice those of their married counterparts.
- Of male deaths registered in 2003, 55% were in a registered marriage at the time of death, while 19% were widowed and 15% were never married. In contrast, of female deaths registered in 2003, 57% were widows at time of death, with a further 26% being in a registered marriage and 9% never married. This difference is a consequence of the greater longevity of women.
- The median age at death in 2003 was 76.2 years for males and 82.4 years for females, an increase of six years on the median age at death for both sexes since 1983. This reflects the ageing of the population, as well as improving life expectancy over the period.
- In the past 20 years the risk of dying has declined for people of all ages. The largest declines in male age-specific death rates occurred in the 10-14 years age group (down 60%), followed by those aged 5-9 years (down 56%), 50-54 years (down 53%) and 55-59 and 1-4 years (each down 52%). Female age-specific death rates declined most substantially for infants (down 50%), followed by those aged 1-4, 5-9 and 50-54 years (each down 47%).
CAUSES OF DEATH
- In 2003, as in previous years, Malignant neoplasms (cancer) were the leading cause of death, accounting for 37,600 deaths or 28% of all deaths. This was followed by all heart diseases with 33,100 deaths or 25% of all deaths. Of all heart diseases, Ischaemic heart disease was the largest contributor, accounting for 77% of deaths by heart disease. Cerebrovascular diseases (stroke) accounted for 9% of all deaths (or 12,200 deaths). Chronic lower respiratory disease accounted for 5% of all deaths (6,000 deaths) and accidents accounted for 4% of all death (or 4,900 deaths).
- Experimental Indigenous life expectancy at birth for 1996-2001 is estimated at 59.4 years for males and 64.8 years for females.
- As there is undercoverage of Indigenous deaths to some extent in most states and territories, the measures of Indigenous mortality presented here are likely to be conservative estimates. Fluctuations in the level of Indigenous mortality over time partly reflect changing levels of coverage of Indigenous deaths. Given the volatility in measures of Indigenous mortality caution should be exercised in assessing trends in Indigenous mortality over time.