3302.0 - Deaths, Australia, 2001  
ARCHIVED ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 02/12/2003   
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December 2, 2003
Embargoed: 11:30 AM (AEST)

Variations in mortality evident for different population groups in Australia

Australians can enjoy one of the highest life expectancies in the world, but there is much variability in mortality statistics between different groups in Australia, according to a new report released today by the Australian Bureau of Statistics.

Australia's 2000–02 life expectancy at birth of 77.4 years for males and 82.6 years for females was among the highest in the world, however, life expectancy at birth varied across the regions of Australia by up to 11 years. In 2000-02, Australia's remote population had a lower life expectancy at birth and higher age-specific death rates than those who lived in major cities

In 2002, 133,700 deaths were registered in Australia, 5,160 (4%) more than in 2001 (128,500). Registered male deaths (68,900) outnumbered female deaths (64,800) in 2002, giving a sex ratio of 106 male deaths for every 100 female deaths. This was a decrease from 123 in 1982. In 2002, the Northern Territory had the highest sex ratio at death (161), while the Australian Capital Territory had the lowest (93).

Since 1982, male deaths have increased by 9%, while female deaths have increased by 26%. This was due primarily to greater improvement in male mortality, relative to female mortality, at the older ages. Two-thirds of all male deaths and over three-quarters of all female deaths were people aged 70 years and over.

Of all men whose deaths were registered during 2002, 55% were in a registered marriage at the time of death, while 20% were widowed and 15% were never married. In contrast, of all women whose deaths were registered during 2002, 57% were widows at the time of death, with a further 26% being in a registered marriage and 9% never married.

Malignant neoplasms (cancer) and ischaemic heart diseases were the leading underlying causes of death for both males and females in 2002, responsible for 48% of deaths in Australia. The standardised death rate from malignant neoplasms for males was 241 per 100,000 in 2002, a 14% decrease from 1982. Over the same period, the standardised death rate for females from malignant neoplasms has decreased by 7% to 150 per 100,000.

More people living in very remote areas died from diabetes mellitus, accidental drownings and submersion, transport accidents and intentional self-harm than those in major cities.

In 2002, the standardised death rate from external causes for males was 57 deaths per 100,000, compared to a rate of 23 for females. These external causes included suicide, where the 2002 standardised death rate for males was almost four times that of females (19 per 100,000 compared to 5 respectively). Suicide accounted for 2,320 deaths in 2002, a 5% decrease in the number reported in 2001 (2,450).

In 2002, 360 people died in Australia whose place of usual residence was overseas. This represents just 0.01% of all short-term visitors to Australia. An analysis of the underlying cause of death of overseas visitors to Australia showed that 41% of these deaths were caused by diseases of the circulatory system, which include ischaemic heart diseases and cerebrovascular diseases (stroke). A further 29% of these deaths were the result of external causes of mortality, such as transport accidents, accidental drowning and submersion, and intentional self-harm. The next highest cause was malignant neoplasms, causing 15% of deaths.

Further details are in Deaths, Australia 2001 (cat. no. 3302.0) and Causes of Death, Australia 2001 (cat. no. 3303.0).