4125.0 - Gender Indicators, Australia, Sep 2018  
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HEALTH

The Health section contains the following sub-topics:
  • Health Status (life expectancy, long-term health conditions, living with disability, psychological distress, mental health)
  • Deaths (death rates, rates by condition/cause of death, perinatal deaths)
  • Risk Factors (Consumption of alcohol, smoking, overweight and obesity, levels of exercise)
  • Services (Medicare services, such as general practitioner visits and selected medical tests)

Detailed data relating to these sub-topics are available from the Downloads tab of this publication (see Data Cubes 7. Health - Health status, 8. Health - Deaths and 9. Health - Risk factors and Services).


INSIGHTS

Health Status

Life expectancy

In 2014–16, Australian life expectancy at birth was 84.6 years for females and 80.4 years for males: that is, based on current mortality rates, a girl born in 2014–16 could expect to live roughly 85 years, while a boy could expect to live 80 years. The gap between female and male life expectancy rates closed by just under 7 months over the decade, dropping from 4.8 to 4.2 years since 2004–06 (see Table 7.1).

As at 2014–16, 60% of females born are expected to survive from birth to age 85, compared with 46% of males, up from 56% and 39% respectively a decade earlier (see Table 7.1).

Figure 1: Life expectancy, 2004–06 to 2014–16 (a)

Figure 1: Life expectancy, 2004–06 to 2014–16
Footnote: (a) Based on three years of data ending in the year shown in the table heading.

Source : Australian Bureau of Statistics, 2016, Deaths, Australia, cat. no. 3302.0



Long-term health conditions

Between 2001 and 2014–15, after adjusting for age, proportions of females reporting a long-term health condition fluctuated between 76% and 80%, consistently higher than proportions of males, which ranged from 73% to 77% over this time (see Figure 1 below, and Table 7.3 for more detail). Age standardised proportions of people reporting mental and behavioural conditions were included in the gender indicators for the first time in this series from 2014–15 (19% of females and 16% of males).

Graph Image for Figure 2 - All persons, one or more reported long-term health conditions by sex, 2001 to 2014-15 (a)

Footnote(s): (a) Includes current conditions which have lasted or are expected to last for six months or more. There was a change in collection methodology for mental and behavioural conditions between 2011-12 and 2014-15, meaning that these data are not directly comparable between 2014-15 and earlier years. (b) Proportions have been age standardised to the 2001 Australian population to account for differences in the age structure of the population over time.

Source(s): Customised data, Australian Bureau of Statistics, National Health Survey, 2014-15



Over this time, the most prevalent long-term conditions reported were arthritis (fluctuating between 16%–18% of females and 11%–13% of males over this time), and asthma (fluctuating between 11%–13% of females and 9%–11% of males over this time).

In 2014–15, while females in most age groups were more likely to have asthma, arthritis, and mental and behavioural conditions, males had higher overall rates of heart, stroke and vascular disease and Diabetes (Diabetes/ High sugar levels and Diabetes mellitus). Proportions of women with arthritis, for example, more than doubled between the ages of 45–54 and 55–64 (from 19% to 41%), while proportions of men rose from 16% to 28%. By the time they were 75 years and over, proportions of women and men with arthritis were 63% and 41% respectively.

Boys aged 0–14 years were more likely to have asthma (12% compared with 10% of girls) and more likely to have a mental or behavioural condition (11% compared with 7% of girls). Proportions of girls and young women reporting a mental or behavioural condition almost quadruple between the ages of 0–14 and 15–24 years, rising from 7% to 25% (see Table 7.3).

After adjusting for age, proportions of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander females reporting a long-term health condition between 2004–05 and 2012–13 were stable, at 78%, while proportions of men rose from 74% to 76% over this time (see Table 7.4).

Since 2009, incidence rates of cancer have been steadily rising for females (from 462 females per 100,000 females in 2009, to 491 per 100,000 in 2014). Conversely, they have been generally declining for males over this time, from a high of 624 males per 100,000 males in 2009 to 599 per 100,000 in 2014 (see Table 7.5).

Living with disability

There has been a decrease in disability prevalence between 2003 and 2015 for both females (20.1% to 18.6%) and males (19.8% to 18.0%). It is important to note however, disability prevalence is correlated with age and Australian females have a higher median age than males (38.1 for females and 36.4 for males in 2016), so it is useful to examine the prevalence after removing the effects of the age structure, particularly when comparing rates over time. The age standardised disability rate for females has decreased from 19.1% in 2003 to 16.7% in 2015, while for males it decreased from 20.4% to 17.2% (see Table 7.6) 1.

Rates of living with a disability are far higher for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. Over half of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples aged 15 years and over reported a disability in 2014–15 (51% of females and 50% of males, after adjusting for age to reflect the broader Australian population). Around 10% of females and 9% of males reported a profound or severe core activity limitation, after adjusting for age (see Table 7.7).

Mental health

- Psychological distress

In 2014–15,14% of women and 10% of men aged 18 years and over experienced high or very high levels of psychological distress. Young women aged 18–24 years were the most likely to report high levels of psychological distress (20%, compared with 11% of young men this age). (See Figure 2 below, and Table 7.8)

Graph Image for Figure 3 - High and very high level of psychological distress by sex and age, 2001 to 2014-15 (a)

Footnote(s): (a) Distress levels calculated using the Kessler 10 scale of psychological distress (K10).

Source(s): Customised data, Australian Bureau of Statistics, National Health Survey, 2014-15



Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women aged 18 years and over were more likely than Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander men to report high or very high levels of psychological distress in 2014–15 (37% for women and 26% for men after adjusting for age). (See Table 7.9)

- Mental health conditions

In 2014–15, 19% of females and 16% of males reported having a long term mental and behavioural condition. A higher proportion of females than males reported anxiety related conditions, particularly those aged 15–24 years (19% and 8% respectively). Women aged 18 years and over were also more likely than men to report mood disorders (13% and 10% respectively). (See Table 7.12)

Graph Image for Figure 4 - Long-term mental and behavioural conditions by selected condition and sex, 2014-15 (a)(b)

Footnote(s): (a) Proportions do not represent a diagnosed mental health prevalence rate. (b) Data for 2014–15 are not comparable to earlier years due to a change in collection methodology. (c) Includes organic mental problems.

Source(s): Australian Bureau of Statistics, 2014-15, National Health Survey: First Results, cat. no. 4364.0.55.001



Deaths

Death rates

The standardised death rate for females and males in 2016 was 4.5 and 6.4 deaths per 1,000 people, respectively. This rate has been generally declining for both females and males over the past 10 years, continuing a long established trend.

Across the majority of ages, females have lower age-specific death rates than males in 2016. This is particularly the case for young men aged 20–24 years, with an age-specific death rate 3 times higher than women the same age (0.6 compared with 0.2 deaths per 1,000 people). (See Table 8.1)

Cause of death

Ischaemic heart disease continues to be the leading cause of death in Australia for both females and males. In 2016, males died from Ischaemic heart disease at a standardised death rate nearly twice that of females (84.0 deaths per 100,000 males compared with 44.1 deaths per 100,000 females). From 2006 to 2016, the death rate declined for both sexes, although it remained consistently lower for females than males.

Standardised death rates for Dementia and Alzheimer's disease are higher for females (43.3 deaths per 100,000) than males (36.7 deaths per 100,000), which likely relates to the longer life expectancy of females.

Males die from Trachea and lung cancer at a higher rate than females, although this gap has narrowed over time. In the 10 years from 2006, the Trachea and lung cancer death rate for males fluctuated from 47.9 deaths per 100,000 in 2006 to a high of 48.6 deaths per 100,000 in 2008 before declining from 2010 to 38.2 deaths per 100,000 in 2016. Over this period the female rate remained relatively stable (22.9 deaths per 100,000 in 2006 compared with 22.5 in 2016).

In 2016, Breast cancer remained the second highest cause of death by cancer for women, with 2,976 deaths (a rate of 19.9 deaths per 100,000 females).

Men aged 15 years and over were more than three times as likely to die in Motor vehicle accidents as women in 2016. Despite this, the rate of death for men from Motor vehicle accidents declined from 12.6 deaths per 100,000 in 2006 to 8.6 deaths per 100,000 in 2016. Over the same period, the rate for women declined from 4.1 deaths per 100,000 in 2006 to 2.8 deaths per 100,000 in 2016.

Drug-induced death rates have generally increased from 2006 to 2016 for both women (3.8 deaths per 100,000 to 5.2 deaths per 100,000) and men (6.0 deaths per 100,000 to 9.9 deaths per 100,000).

The death rate from suicide is more than three times higher for males than females. In 2016, standardised death rates were 17.8 deaths per 100,000 males, and 5.8 deaths per 100,000 females. About 2,150 males and 710 females died from intentional self-harm in Australia in 2016: an average of 6 males and 2 females every day. For more detail on death rates from specific causes of death, see Tables 8.2 to 8.10.


Perinatal deaths

In 2016, the perinatal death rate (per 1,000 births) was 7.2 for female babies, and 8.2 for male babies. The rate for female babies is the lowest rate in the past decade (see Table 8.11).

Between 2006 and 2016, the average rate (per 1,000 births) for perinatal deaths where at least one parent was of Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander origin was 9.3 for female babies and 11.4 for male babies. In comparison, the average rate for perinatal deaths where neither parent identified as Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander was 7.6 and 8.2, respectively (see Table 8.12).


Risk Factors

Alcohol consumption

In 2014–15, 76% of women and 86% of men aged 18 years and over had consumed alcohol in the past year 2.

Fewer women and men were consuming alcohol in quantities which present a lifetime risk according to the 2009 NHMRC guidelines in 2014–15. Levels of consumption exceeding these guidelines have been decreasing since 2004–05, with the largest decrease being for men between 2011–12 and 2014–15 (a 4.5 percentage point decrease). Men are still more likely to exceed the guidelines than women, however: in 2014–15, after adjusting for the effects of age, men aged 18 years and over were more than twice as likely to exceed the guidelines as women the same age (24% compared with 9%). (See Figure 5 below and Table 9.1)

Proportions of young men (aged 18–24 years) exceeding the lifetime risk guideline dropped from 32% in 2001 to 19% in 2014–15. Proportions of older women exceeding the threshold, however, have been rising - from 6% of women aged 65 years and over in 2001 to 10% in 2014–15 (see Table 9.1).

Figure 5 - Persons 18 years and over who exceeded the lifetime risk alcohol guideline, by sex, 2001 to 2014–15 (a)(b)
Figure 5 - Persons 18 years and over who exceeded the lifetime risk alcohol guideline, by sex, 2001 to 2014–15


Smoking

Fewer women and men aged 18 years and over are smoking, continuing the long term trend. The rate of women that smoke (13% in 2014–15) also continues to be lower than the rate of men that smoke (18% in 2014–15) (after adjusting for differences in age). Between 2001 and 2014–15, the largest decrease in smoking rates was for young men aged 18–24 years old, dropping from 35% in 2001 to 16% in 2014–15. For the same period the largest decrease for women was for those aged 25–34 years old, where the rate halved from 28% in 2001 to 14% in 2014–15 (see Table 9.3).

Graph Image for Figure 6 - All persons 18 years and over, current smokers, by sex, 2001 to 2014-15 (a)(b)

Footnote(s): (a) Includes Current smoker daily, Current smoker weekly (at least once a week but not daily) and Current smoker less than weekly. (b) Persons aged 18 years and over. Proportions have been age standardised to the 2001 Australian population to account for differences in the age structure of the population over time.

Source(s): Australian Bureau of Statistics, 2014-15, National Health Survey: First Results, cat. no. 4364.0.55.001



Overweight/obesity

Between 1995 and 2014–15, after adjusting for age, proportions of women (18 years and over) who were obese increased from 19% to 27%, while those of men increased from 18% to 28%. A further 28% of women and 43% of men were overweight in 2014–15 (see Table 9.5).

Graph Image for Figure 7 - All persons 18 years and over, measured overweight and obesity, by sex, 1995 to 2014-15 (a)(b)(c)

Footnote(s): a) Measured Body Mass Index is based on measured height and weight. (b) In 2014-15, 26.8% of respondents aged 18 years and over did not have their height, weight or both measured. For these respondents, imputation was used to obtain height, weight and BMI scores. (c) Proportions have been age standardised to the 2001 Australian population to account for differences in the age structure of the population over time.

Source(s): Customised data, Australian Bureau of Statistics, National Health Survey, 2014-15



The largest increase in rates of obesity for women over the past twenty years was for those aged 35–44 years old: between 1995 and 2014–15 rates for women this age climbed from 17% to 31%. For men, the largest increase over this time was for those aged 65–74 years old, up from 21% in 1995 to 38% in 2014–15 (see Table 9.5).

Level of exercise

Levels of exercise differ for females and males, with females 15 years and over more likely to be sedentary or engage in low levels of exercise than males the same age (see Level of exercise in the Health Glossary for definitions). In 2014–15, after adjusting for the effects of age, 69% of females and 61% of males were sedentary or engaged in low levels of exercise, an improvement on 2007–08 where the proportions were 76% and 69%, respectively (see Table 9.8).

Medicare Services

Medicare services include a range of medical services that are provided for free or at a lower cost, such as visits to general practitioners, specialists and optometrists, and free care as a public patient in a public hospital. The average number of Medicare services processed per year for both females and males has steadily increased over the past decade with the number of services remaining higher for females than males overall. In the ten years between 2007–08 and 2016–17, females claimed an average of 17 services annually, compared with an average of 12 services per year for males (see Table 9.11).

This is not the case for older people, however. Between 2007–08 and 2016–17, the average number of Medicare services processed for men aged 65 years and over consistently exceeded that of women the same age (an average of 36 services per year, compared with 30 per year for women). (See Table 9.11)


1. Population by Age and Sex, Regions of Australia, 2016 (cat. no. 3235.0)
2. National Health Survey: First Results, 2014-15 (cat. no. 4364.0.55.001) - Table 11.3 Alcohol consumption — Short-term/Single occasion risk(a), Proportion of persons