3302.0 - Deaths, Australia, 1998  
ARCHIVED ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 29/11/1999   
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November 29, 1999
Embargoed 11:30am (AEST)

Life expectancy continues to increase - ABS

Australian life expectancy continues to increase with life expectancy at birth being 75.9 years for males and 81.5 years for females during 1996-98, according to figures published today by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS). Internationally, Australia's life expectancy ranks behind Japan, Sweden, Canada and Switzerland (lower by up to three years), is about the same as France and Spain, and is one year higher than New Zealand, the United Kingdom and the United States of America.

Of the total 127,202 deaths registered in 1998, cancer and ischaemic heart disease accounted for almost half (27% and 22% respectively). Although death rates from cancer and ischaemic heart disease increase with age these death rates have decreased for all age groups between 1989 and 1998. In 1998 accidents accounted for 4,820 deaths (4% of all deaths). Motor vehicle accidents were the major contributor responsible for 36% of all accident deaths while accidental falls accounted for a further 25% of the total.

Reflecting a decline in the death rates from all causes, the average age at death has been rising. In 1998, the age by which 50% of total deaths occurred (median age) was 77 years, compared to 75 years 10 years ago. However, Indigenous Australians had a death rate at least three times higher than that of the total population in 1998. The average age at death for Indigenous people was 50 years, 27 years less than the average age for all deaths.

In 1998 there were 2683 suicides, 40 less than the number registered in 1997. People aged 25-44 years again had the highest suicide death rate (23 deaths per 100,000 people in this age group). This represents an increase over the 17 deaths per 100,000 people recorded for this age group in 1989. The rate for 15-24 age group has also increased over this period, from 14 to 17 deaths per 100,000 people aged 15-24. However, suicide represents a higher proportion of all deaths among those aged 15-24 (25%) than those aged 25-44 (20%).

The 1998 infant mortality rate was the lowest ever in Australia for the second consecutive year, with 5.0 deaths per 1,000 live births. There were 2,090 perinatal deaths (still births and deaths of children within 28 days of birth) in 1998, 10% lower than in the previous year (2321).

These statistics, published today in Deaths, Australia 1998 (cat. no. 3302.0) and Causes of Death, Australia 1998 (cat. no. 3303.0) are based on death registrations made available by State and Territory registrars. A summary of these publications - Deaths, Australia 1998 and Causes of Death, Australia 1998 can be found on this site. The ABS encourages media organisations with online news services to link to the summaries. Please phone us if you need help to do this.

To find out how to purchase a copy of this publication, telephone the ABS Bookshop or ABS switchboard in your capital city (listed under Australian Bureau of Statistics in each capital city telephone directory).