3106.0 - Demography News, Feb 1999  
ARCHIVED ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 28/02/1999   
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  • In 1997, there were 129,400 deaths, about half the number of births, resulting in a natural increase in Australia's population of 123,000 persons.
  • The most common causes of death were heart disease (28%) and cancer (27%). External causes, which include motor vehicle accidents, falls, drowning and suicide, accounted for 6% of all deaths.
  • At every age, males were more likely to die than females. The largest differences were in the 15-34 years age group where male rates were three times higher than female rates.
  • A boy born in Australia in 1995-97 could expect to live for 75.6 years, while a girl born in 1995-97 could expect to live for 81.3 years.
  • In 1997, the infant mortality rate was the lowest in Australian history, at 5.3 deaths per 1,000 live births. It has fallen by an average of almost 5% per year over the last 10 years and is among the lowest in the world.
  • People from the 10 largest birthplace groups in Australia have significantly lower death rates than those born in Australia. For example, Viet Nam-born migrants have a death rate 44% below the national rate. New Zealand-born migrants were the only exception, with a death rate close to the national rate.

Click here to see the main features of Deaths, Australia, 1997 (Catalogue no. 3302.0)

First release of multi-cause statistics

Statistics based on all causes of death reported on death certificates are available for the first time. This means that data on both underlying causes, as produced in previous years, and all contributory causes are now available.

This enhanced data set (multi-cause statistics) is valuable for providing a better understanding of causes of death. It allows for the examination of associations between causes of death and also allows the nature of injuries reported in external causes of death to be analysed.

Some highlights of the 1997 multi-cause data are as follows:
  • Where malignant neoplasms was the underlying cause, the most common contributory cause was 'pneumonia and influenza' which was reported in 7.9% of all cancer deaths. Other contributory causes of importance were: ischaemic heart disease (5.8%); chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (5.7%); nephritis, nephrotic syndrome and nephrosis (4.4%); and diabetes mellitus (3.4%).
  • Ischaemic heart disease was often associated with one or more circulatory diseases. Hypertensive disease was reported as a contributory cause in 16% of all cases where the underlying cause was ischaemic heart disease. Other major contributory causes were chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (10%); diseases of the arteries, arterioles, and capillaries (10%): diabetes (8.7%;) and cerebrovascular disease (7.7%).
  • Intracranial injuries, internal injuries of the chest, abdomen and pelvis and fractures were the most common injuries reported in deaths due to motor vehicle accidents. These accounted respectively for 22%, 21%, and 15% of all injuries coded for motor vehicle traffic accidents.

For further details see Causes of Death, Australia, 1997 (Catalogue no. 3303.0)