4125.0 - Gender Indicators, Australia, Jul 2012  
ARCHIVED ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 27/07/2012   
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(a) Deaths per 1,000 standard population. Standardised death rates use total persons in the 2001 Australian population as the standard population.

Source: ABS Deaths, Australia (cat. no. 3302.0).


In 2010, the age standardised death rate for males was 6.8 deaths per 1,000 males, higher than 4.7 deaths per 1,000 for females. The age standardised death rates take into account both the differences between the age structures for males and females and the effect of changes in the age structure of the Australian population over time. Both male and female age standardised death rates in 2010 were lower than in 2001 (8.2 deaths per 1,000 males and 5.4 deaths per 1,000 females). While males had higher death rates than females in each of the ten years to 2010, the gap between male and female death rates narrowed from 2.8 deaths per 1,000 in 2001 to 2.1 deaths per 1,000 in 2010.

The difference in the death rates for males and females is attributed to different attitudes, biology, behaviours, lifestyles and working patterns. Females, for example, are less likely to be overweight or to smoke, which reduces the risk of some cancers, cardiovascular disease and diabetes. Males are more often involved in hazardous occupations and are more prone to risky behaviours, particularly in early years of adult life, which together result in higher death rates due to accidents. (Endnote 1)

Over the last 125 years there have been changes in what Australians have died from and the age at which they have died. Up until 1932, infectious and parasitic diseases caused at least 10% of all deaths each year, with death rates from these diseases highest among the very young and very old. (Endnote 2) Improvements in living conditions in the early 20th century, such as better water supplies, sewerage systems, food quality and health education, led to lower death rates and longer life expectancy at all ages. (Endnote 3)

Advances in medical technology, public health measures (including earlier detection of some illnesses) and healthier lifestyles have contributed to declines in the standardised death rates from some of the leading causes of deaths.

Age-specific death rates

Following relatively high death rates in infancy, death rates decline sharply through childhood ages. In 2010, male and female children aged 5-9 years and 10-14 years had the lowest age-specific death rates (ASDRs) (0.1 per 1,000 children of these ages). ASDRs begin to rise from age 15 years. In 2010, the ASDR for male children in the 15-19 years age group was 0.5 per 1,000, and for female children in this age group it was 0.2 per 1,000. For all older age groups, ASDRs were higher for males than females.

Male ASDRs increased gradually across age groups until around the 40-44 years age group, after which they increase more quickly through the older age groups. ASDRs for females in the age groups from 15 to 39 years were relatively low, but continued to rise through the older age groups.

Death rates have declined between 2001 and 2010 for both males and females for most ages. The largest proportional declines have occurred in the younger age groups. For children aged under 1 year the ASDR for males has declined from 5.8 to 5.0 (down 14%), and for females the decline was from 4.5 to 3.5 (down 22%). ASDRs have also declined in the older age groups, with the ASDR for males aged 80-84 years declining from 80.4 in 2001 to 67.6 in 2010 (down 16%) and for females from 52.9 to 45.8 (down 13%).Leading causes of deaths

Ischaemic heart disease was the leading causes of death for both males and females in 2010, with 11,704 and 10,004 deaths respectively. This reflects a sex ratio of 117 male deaths per 100 female deaths.

The remaining leading causes of death vary between the sexes, in part due to the incidence of gender-specific diseases, such as prostate or ovarian cancer. However, other causes which may not be gender specific also showed variance between the sexes. In 2010, Trachea and lung cancers deaths for males were 4,932 compared to 3,166 deaths for females (sex ratio of 156 male deaths for every 100 female deaths). Strokes were the second leading cause for female deaths and third leading cause for male deaths with 6,871 and 4,333 deaths respectively (sex ratio of 63 male deaths for every 100 female deaths).

In 2010, males accounted for 77% of Suicide deaths and 58% of Blood and lymph cancer deaths. Females accounted for 68% of all deaths from Dementia and Alzheimer's disease and 57% of all deaths from Heart failure. (Endnote 4)

Burden of disease

The burden of disease provides an insight into the loss of health and wellbeing of Australians due to premature mortality, disability and other non-fatal events. Disability-Adjusted-Life-Year (DALY) is a measure used to combine information on mortality, disability and other non-fatal health outcomes. It describes the amount of time lost due to both fatal and non-fatal events, that is, years of life lost due to premature death coupled with years of ‘healthy’ life lost due to disability. DALY gives a more complete view of the health of the population.

In 2003, more than 2.63 million years of ‘healthy’ life (that is, DALYs) were lost due to the burden of disease and injury in Australia. Out of these, the burden was shared relatively equally by males and females (52% and 48% respectively). Overall, half the total burden (49%) was due to premature deaths, and the distribution between the sexes was roughly equal for most causes, with the exceptions being injuries (70% of the burden for males) and musculoskeletal disorders (58% of the burden for females).

Cancer, cardiovascular disease and mental disorders were the leading causes of total burden of disease and injury in Australia. The burden experienced as a result of ischaemic heart disease was 11% of the total burden for males and 9% of the total burden for females. This has decreased since 1993 when the burden experienced as a result of this disease was 15% of the total burden for males and 12% of the total burden for females.

Cancer has remained a relatively stable contributor to the total burden of disease. In 2003, breast cancer contributed 5% of the total burden of disease for females, prostate cancer 3%of the total burden for males, and lung cancer contributed 4% of the total burden for males and 3% of the total burden for females.

Anxiety and depression contributed 10% of the total burden of disease for females in 2003, twice that for males (5%). From 1993 to 2003, the contribution from dementia rose slightly from 2% to 3% of the total burden for males and 4% to 5% of the total burden for females. The burden of Type 2 diabetes increased slightly from 4% to 5% of the total burden of disease for both males and females, respectively. (Endnote 5)

1. Australian Bureau of Statistics, 2010, Measures of Australia's Progress 2010 (cat. no. 1370.0), <www.abs.gov.au>.
2. Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, 2008, GRIM Books Version 9: All certain infectious & parasitic diseases (ICD 10 A00-B99), <www.aihw.gov,au>
3. Australian Bureau of Statistics, Mar 2011, Australian Social Trends, Mar 2011 (cat. no. 4102.0) <www.abs.gov.au>.
4. Australian Bureau of Statistics, Causes of Death, Australia, 2010 (cat. no. 3303.0), <www.abs.gov.au>.
5. Begg S, Vos T, Barker B, Stevenson C, Stanley L, Lopez AD, 'Burden of Disease and Injury in Australia, 2003' (cat. no. PHE 82), Canberra, AIHW.


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